(Saturday, February 20)
Writing in his newspaper, Nikol Pashinian, the imprisoned editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak,” condemns the criminal proceedings launched against a brother of opposition-linked tycoon Khachatur Sukiasian. Pashinian says the controversial case against Saribek Sukiasian shows that Armenia’s economy is controlled by government-linked “oligarchs” that have made fortunes through a lack of business competition and reliance on political patronage. “In these circumstances, they will naturally fight for the regime’s reproduction with all legitimate and illegitimate means because for them regime change would mean a loss of the patronage and, therefore, assets,” writes Pashinian.
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” deputy parliament speaker Samvel Nikoyan claims that some newspapers distorted his recent remarks about the Armenian government’s policy on Turkey. “Journalists dealing with political issues should act within the framework of elementary logic and be able to see the difference between political categories,” he says. “At my news conference, I said that the Republic of Armenia should continue its pro-active policy and explained that it means the [parliament] committee on foreign relations should start discussions on the issue.”
That, according to Nikoyan, does not mean that the committee should necessarily rush to pass judgment on the Turkish-Armenian protocols. “And if someone does not understand or does not want to understand that difference, it is useless to explain that for five or ten times,” adds Nikoyan. “But that is their problem.”
Speaking to “Aravot,” Karen Karapetian, the chief executive of the ArmRosGazprom (ARG) gas distribution operator, defends his company’s plans to raise the retail price of natural gas in Armenia by 40 percent. Karapetian says ARG does realize that many Armenians would struggle to pay the higher fee and “can’t feel well” because of that. “We are interested in seeing natural gas affordable for consumers, but every commodity has a price in the market and it’s not possible to sell a commodity at a price below its production cost.” Karapetian also says the government is now “elaborating mechanisms for mitigating consequences of the new tariff.”
“Azg” reports that the head of Russia’s biggest mobile phone retailer, Yevroset, has said that the company has no plans to relaunch operations in Armenia and other former Soviet republics. (Yevroset has closed its shops there in recent years, citing widespread smuggling of handsets by local entrepreneurs.) “We don’t operate in those markets where local legislation is not binding for businessmen,” says Aleksandr Malis. “Armenia is one of them. There you can avoid paying taxes and give bribes instead. We can’t work in such countries.”