“168 Zham” reports that about $40 million worth of hard currency sales were abruptly annulled at the Yerevan stock exchange on Friday morning. “As one could expect, this information was yesterday officially refuted,” says the paper. It quotes an official from the Central Bank of Armenia, Artur Nakhshikian, as saying that trading at the stock exchange was only suspended for a couple of hours for “technical reasons.” “Such cases have happened before,” he says.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports on dollar shortages in Yerevan, portraying that as a further indication that the Armenian economy is in serious crisis. “There is panic in the banks, and Serzh Sarkisian personally meets the head of some company and asks him not to cut jobs,” says the paper. It also criticizes the authorities for raising key utility prices and toughening tax administration. “What will be the plight of the people in two or three months? Almost all construction works in Armenia are frozen, some of seasonal migrant workers traditionally going to Russia in spring will stay in Armenia and swell the ranks of the unemployed.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that as if the March 2008 “mutiny” in Yerevan was not enough, Armenia and its leadership are now facing another tough test emanating from the global crisis. The paper believes that the authorities have already succeeded in reducing a “panicky mood” in the country and sparing the financial institutions major upheavals. “In case of efficiently using anticipated loans from the World Bank and Russia’s anti-crisis fund, it looks as though the government will be able to neutralize negative effects of the crisis,” it says.
“Kapital” says that the main purpose of Sunday’s opposition rally is not so much to commemorate the first anniversary of the March 1 unrest as to attract a large number of protesters. “But two key circumstances relating to the March 1 rally are of concern,” says the business daily. “On the one hand, does the opposition have anything new to tell participants of the rally? How will it try to restore the resolve of its supporters? On the other hand, will there be clashes between participants of the rally and police forces? Will the opposition resume the wave of permanent rallies?”
Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian tells “Zhamanak” that the authorities have still not done anything to ease political tensions and punish those responsible for the March 1 bloodshed. “Negative consequences of March 1 have not been eliminated,” says Demirchian. “If the public came to terms with this situation, the opposition’s activities would naturally become pointless. But our society demands changes.”