“Zhamanak” says that the Armenian authorities will deal a serious blow to the opposition ORO alliance if they prove that Samvel Babayan, an arrested former general close to it, smuggled weapons to Armenia to stir up trouble there. The paper speculates that the authorities may not intend to come up with such evidence and are simply keen to “isolate” Babayan during the election period. It warns that they would be wrong to “imitate any threat for the sake of a political aim” because that would only undermine their ability to cope with real “threats to statehood.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” tries to understand why Babayan would get hold of a shoulder-fired surface-to-air rocket ahead of the April 2 elections. “The only more or less logical explanation is that they wanted to shoot down Serzh Sarkisian’s plane,” writes the paper. “But anyone planning such an action must have also planned further steps. Namely, they should have been sure that they would manage to seize power after that. If this is a realistic plot, then it testifies to one thing: Serzh Sarkisian has created a system of one-man rule where you can change everything by just eliminating ‘the chief.’” It is also possible that the case against Babayan was “fabricated” by Sarkisian and the National Security Service (NSS), says the pro-opposition daily.
“Zhoghovurd” welcomes the sacking of Armenia’s ambassador to Belarus, Armen Khachatrian, but disapproves of the choice of his successor, Oleg Yesayan, who served as Armenian ambassador to Russia until now. The paper says that Yesayan was incompetent and very passive throughout his tenure. “Which merits of Yesayan have led Serzh Sarkisian to re-appoint him to this post?” it asks, accusing the Armenian president of favoritism.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC) announced on Thursday the start of a “second phase of reforms” which it has pledged to implement. In particular, the SRC plans to soften legal penalties for first-time offenders of tax laws and regulations. It also intends to stop levying value-added tax from industrial equipment imported to Armenia at the border. “In the long term, this will have a considerable positive impact on domestic manufacturers,” it says. “But in the short term, it will reduce state budgetary revenue.”