(Saturday, January 31)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” speculates that the renewed protests staged in Yerevan by small business owners against a new tax law have sparked infighting within the Armenian government. The paper points to Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s decision on Friday to again make concessions to the protesters. It says that Abrahamian is now exploiting the controversy to get rid of Finance Minister Gagik Khachatrian, the main author of the law in question.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” quotes Vahram Baghdasarian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), as saying that the authorities will reconsider the law if it results in the closure of many small shops. The pro-opposition daily compares the government tactic to the use of mice and other animals in dangerous medical experiments. “Small and medium-sized enterprises are not metro rail car doors that can constantly close and open,” it says. “Nevertheless, there is one good thing about this. The parliamentary majority seems to be starting to realize that it bears responsibility for that law. This is serious progress and we think that the issue will find some solution in the next few days.”
“Zhamanak” says that the traders’ protests seem to have been encouraged and even led by Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). The paper agrees with the critics of the controversial law, saying that it “does not correspond at all to economic challenges facing Armenia and the public’s interests.” “It can in no way help to solve any economic problem,” it says. “The law must definitely be amended.”
“Aravot” believes that the Armenian and other members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) should have voted against suspending the voting rights of their Russian colleagues. “Not because that country’s policies are good but because stripping anyone of their voice is wrong,” explains the paper. “If the 47 member states of the Council of Europe had identical views then their representatives would not need to meet and discuss anything in the first place.”
“Hraparak” reports that Armenian brandy firms, which looked forward to Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), are now suffering growing financial losses because of the worsening economic situation in Russia. The paper says that the distilleries specializing in the Russian markets have been hit particularly hard by the sharp depreciation of the Russian ruble.