(Saturday, February 4)
“Zhoghovurd” reports that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled out the release of Alexander Lapshin, a Russian-Israeli blogger who was arrested in Minsk because of his repeated visits to Nagorno-Karabakh. The paper says that Lukashenko is going out of his way to please his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, who awarded him an Azerbaijani state medal shortly before Lapshin’s arrest. It also says that Lapshin’s extradition to Baku will set a “very bad precedent.”
“Aravot” laughs off criticism of the state of affairs in Armenia voiced by people who until recently held senior government posts or have long used government connections to enrich themselves. “People who have thoroughly benefited from the unjust system that has existed for 25 years have now decided all of a sudden to fight for justice,” editorializes the paper. “Oligarchs, whose unpaid taxes have left pensioners as well as scores of workers grappling with grave socioeconomic problems, speak of poverty and emigration.” The paper goes on to praise several public figures who have decided not to stand in the April 2 parliamentary elections. “They prove that one can live in Armenia and be useful to the country without holding seats in the National Assembly,” it says, singling out Khachatur Sukiasian, a wealthy businessman.
“Armenia simultaneously lives in several realities,” writes “168 Zham.” “In one reality presented by the government, everything is wonderful, all problems are being solved and Armenia is heading for a bright future. In another reality presented by the opposition or whose claim to be in opposition, there is only doom and gloom and problems are not only not solved but are actually deepening by the day. And there is also a reality in which ordinary citizens, who are neither pro-government nor pro-opposition, live … The political system and the citizens live in separate realities. This is why politics does not cater for the citizens’ interests.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports on a sharp drop in taxes that were paid last year by companies linked to former Finance Minister Gagik Khachatrian. “Gagik Khachatrian’s influence decreased in May last year when the State Revenue Committee was separated from the Finance Ministry headed by him,” says the paper. “And in September, he lost the post of finance minister as well. Gagik Khachatrian does not hold any state post at the moment and, according to some rumors, intends to emigrate from Armenia.”