(Saturday, December 13)
“Golos Armenii” reports that the Armenian government is to build a new office building within its main compound in downtown Yerevan. “As the government’s press service reports, the building will be constructed with the aim of providing state governance bodies with additional office space,” says the Russian-language paper. The paper criticizes the move, saying that it runs counter to Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s earlier pledge to streamline the state bureaucracy. “After all, for civil servants the expansion of territorial resources means a corresponding expansion of staffs,” it says. “So no staff cuts are envisaged in state bodies.”
“The economic crisis in Armenia is deepening day by day,” claims “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” The opposition cites United Nations data showing that over 20 percent of Armenians suffer from malnutrition. “In Georgia, for example, this indicator stands at 13 percent,” it says. “The authorities also realize that the situation is difficult. “But because their only known way of solving a problem is to secure money [from abroad] their brains work only in that direction. They requested $1 billion from the World Bank, they request money from Russia. But it’s one thing to request and another to obtain.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” goes on to predict grimly that “in 2009 Armenia will not be able to cope with consequences of the crisis.” It says the government will fail to obtain the badly needed donor assistance and will step its “tax terror” against local businesses as a result.
“Hayots Ashkhar” compares state authority to a narcotic, saying this is the reason why “anyone deprived of power starts to fight for power the day after [their dismissal.]” The paper says only those individuals for whom power is an end in itself usually reach the highest level of human bliss. They also defeat those who need to use a government position as a “means of making money,” it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” contends that most of Armenia’s “political prisoners” are in no mood to ask President Serzh Sarkisian to pardon and release them. The paper also editorializes that Sarkisian clearly prefers selective pardons granted to repentant oppositionists to a general amnesty for all individuals arrested in connection with the post-election clashes in Yerevan. It says that by trying to get the detainees to request pardons Sarkisian wants to show that they are not pinning hopes on opposition leaders anymore and recognize him, rather than Levon Ter-Petrosian, as president of the republic.