“Aravot” reports that a lawyer has joined in a wave of libel suits filed against Armenian newspapers critical of the government. The paper says the lawyer, Artur Grigorian, is demanding 18 million drams ($47,400) in damages from the “Hraparak” daily for offensive comments posted by anonymous readers on the paper’s website. “In case they go down that ludicrous path, our courts will soon be dealing solely with expressions posted on the Internet,” writes “Aravot.” “And there are thousands, if not millions, of such statements attacking one or another Armenian citizen.”
Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasian tells “Irates de facto” that he is open to hearing “healthy criticism” of Armenia’s judiciary and other state institutions. “If criticism presupposes institutional changes, it is objective,” he says. “Those are tools with which both the minister of justice and other carriers of legislative initiatives can influence that system. The public’s discontent with the judicial system is really worrisome. It has both objective and subjective causes.”
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” dismisses the notion that Armenia’s political scene is essentially dominated by the current and former presidents and that new political heavyweights should enter the fray. “Individuals do not matter here,” writes the paper. “We are talking about three different concepts for the development of the state.”
Interviewed by “Yerkir,” Hamlet Harutiunian, a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), defends the presence of numerous businesspeople in the Armenian parliament. He says they can be reelected to the National Assembly if they want to. Harutiunian says that they do not violate a constitutional clause that bans lawmakers from engaging in any entrepreneurial activity.
Citing the latest list of Armenia’s 1,000 largest corporate taxpayers, “Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that “oligarchs are gradually reducing the amount of taxes paid by them.” “On the one hand, the economy is being increasingly concentrated in their hands,” says the paper. “On the other hand, companies belonging to them are paying less taxes.” It says this fact calls into question the success of a government plan to raise tax revenues by more than 10 percent next year. The paper is worried that the government will seek to do that mainly at the expense of small and medium-sized businesses, rather than large and lucrative ones. “If the government has theoretical plans to place that burden on the oligarchs, then those plans are inherently doomed to fail under the existing authorities,” it concludes.