Armenian press review (March 10 - 16)

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Armenian press review (March 10 - 16)

The Armenian President's visit to Moscow and the controversy surrounding the new Electoral Code are in the focus of the Armenian media. The press writes about why Russian journalists know all the military secrets of Armenia, guesses what surprises the authorities can expect from the voters in Yerevan during the upcoming parliamentary elections, and wonders why the government has not yet resigned in the current economic situation.

The Zhamanak newspaper writes: "It seems quite obvious that Serzh Sargsyan during his visit to Moscow has to assure the President of Russia that his actions in the international arena and inside his country do not put Russia's interests into question. In the country is is certainly about intergovernmental permutations and in the international arena it's about new negotiations with the European Union.

Of course, another key issue is the economic situation, which in the case of Armenia is close to catastrophic, and Serzh Sargsyan, apparently, will either ask Russia to provide him economic assistance, perhaps trying to solve the question of the revision of gas prices, or ask Moscow for permission regarding any project which may deepen economic ties with other countries. But the key issue is not what Armenia will get, but the price of any favorable agreement," the author writes.

The Chorrord Ishkhanutyun newspaper notes: "Serzh Sargsyan presented a declaration of income and property for 2015 to the ethics committee and it turned out that he and his spouse Rita Sargsyan together have loaned about 203 million drams and receive interest."

"The question is not about the fact that Serzh Sargsyan loans money at 12.8% per annum and his country has to borrow money here and there. The question is how did a human, who has worked in the government for all his life, get so much money? Moreover, this is not a case when he could say, like others, that he had received them as a gift, he also cannot say that his brother helped him, because it will turn out that he entered into a share of Sashik's property. Instead, Serzh Sargsyan has a big advantage over other senior officials: he can safely say that he has won and they will believe him," the newspaper says ironically.

The editor-in-chief of Aravot writes about a new draft Electoral Code: "I think the proposal of the authorities to limit the number of journalists and observers at the polling stations is a nervous reaction to a situation in which the number of video recorders was unprecedented during the last referendum, and 'the main characters', who ensured the results of the referendum, had to say all the time "Put away your cell phone", "I told you not to take pictures", after which the characters found themselves on the Internet," he said.

"I try to convey a simple truth to the 25-year-old Armenian politicians. If the media are a side in the political struggle, if journalists are political activists or figures, if instead of covering an event (including the elections) they become its members, then there is nothing wrong. This is a manifestation of civil activity of people and it's impossible to fight it with prohibitions and restrictions, and it is especially useless today in the Internet and social networking era. Of course, some kinds of boundaries between journalism and non-journalism are desirable, but it's unlikely to bother our rulers. And I do not think that it's the authorities' business. It's our, journalists', business, and we must achieve this goal through decent work, through covering events and educating our readers. But it's not about limitations of the proposed project of the Electoral Code," the editor concludes.

After President Serzh Sargsyan's keynote speech about the results of the constitutional reforms, a remarkable political regrouping has begun in the country, the 'Irates de Facto' newspaper writes. "As it turns out, a period of backstage discussions and orders has began. According to our information, there was quite a serious conversation between Serzh Sargsyan and the Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan after this speech. The president said that a basic bet in the forthcoming parliamentary elections will be made on Yerevan. It is obvious that the number of people dissatisfied with the authorities is great in the capital, and concrete steps need to be taken to solve the problems of the authorities.

Serzh Sargsyan noted that it is necessary to do everything possible for transparent elections, as the international community is watching what is happening very closely. Obviously, this caused a series of active meetings of Taron Margaryan's with representatives of various departments of the City Hall. The results of the elections will show which were effective steps and what was just PR. And meanwhile the fact is that Serzh Sargsyan gave a clear order to tackle the problems of citizens in Yerevan to prevent any surprises to the authorities from the capital voters during the elections," the 'Irates de Facto' newspaper notes.

We can read in the Zhoghovurd newspaper: "The Russian edition 'Military-Industrial Courier' published an analytical article by Alexander Khramchikhin titled 'Outpost with Questions', which contains classified information about the Armenian Armed Forces in detail. Khramchikhin listed in detail how many corps and military units the Armed Forces of Armenia have, their purposes, location, military command and the types of weapons. It's such a huge amount of secret information, any Armenian journalist or officer would have been charged with treason for the publication of even 10% of it. It goes without saying that such an amount of secret information could not appear in the Russian media without information assistance of the Russian Defense Ministry and without the Russian political leadership's order. And the fact that information of an unprecedented 'blackmailing' character about the strategic ally is published on the eve of President Serzh Sargsyan's visit to Moscow gives cause for serious concern," the author concludes.

The Chorrord Ishkhanutiun newspaper assumes that in the near future ex-president Robert Kocharyan will either become more active, or completely leave big politics. The publication reports: "Vartan Oskanian has confirmed that in the near future he is going to establish a party. At the same time, he stated that Robert Kocharyan was irrelevant. Despite the fact that Kocharyan is linked with the party, Oskanian's answer was the same in both cases. It is obvious only the events on March 1st remain the weakest point of Vartan Oskanian. Another issue is that the weak point of the current authorities is also these events, and the ruling Republican party is unlikely to focus on the subject. In the end, Vartan Oskanian was just the head of the Foreign Ministry, there are much higher officials in Armenia. We can only wait for Oskanian's weak points to be used. It means that Kocharian has a relation to the party created by him, as well as whether it is in the plans of Serzh Sargsyan if he has such a relation."

The Hraparak newspaper writes: "A clever man saw his obituary in the newspaper and wrote: "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated." Our numerous mass media wrote not only political obituaries about Kocharyan, but also articles about his ''forty days'' and ''anniversary". After Oskanian's statement that Kocharyan was establish a party soon mass media suddenly decided that Kocharian returns. It turns out that what they wrote "a little exaggerated," the paper concludes.

The Zhamanak reports: "Taking into account the economic terms comparable to the economic performance of Armenia, any civilized state would demand the resignation of the government. However, it hasn't happen in Armenia and the main reason for this is the lack of electoral mechanisms. The worse economic performance the more the government will be have control. As the Republican party has numerous branches they are interested in Hovik Abrahamyan's dependence on poor economic results. In this case he will have to work more to implement others' interests during the election cycle, rather than his own and the interests of his team. The economy of Armenia is becoming a victim of this situation." The resignation of the Chief of the Armenian Police Vladimir Gasparyan is discussed during several days on the sidelines of the government and political circles, the Haykakan Zhamanak reports. "A new candidate's name for the post has already appeared in the press. We mean the chief of the Compulsory Enforcement Service of Judicial Acts of the Ministry of Justice, Mihran Poghosyan, who is the true owner of the Catherine company. "On this occasion, yesterday we asked adviser Gasparyan Malianov to comment on it and he said: "Do not believe everything you read,'' the newspaper notes.

The Armenian police began to show an active interest in the financial flows of South-Caucasian Railway, and about 10 days ago the company was inspected, the Zhamanak newspaper reports, citing its own sources. "The results of audits will be announced in the near future. It should be noted that the result of inspections is to check our publication, which wrote an article about the assignment of $120,000 allocated for the re-branding of the company,'' the publication reports.

The controlling stake (51%) of the Armenia airline, which operated in the domestic market, belongs to Ashot Torosyan, who is a dentist from Gyumri, Zhamanak reports. "He assured us that neither the senior official nor the oligarch support him." There is nothing of this kind. The director of the Armenia and Georgian companies are people who are close to me,'' Ashot Torosyan said. ''Can a Gyumri dentist open an airline company?'' Torosyan asked. ''Theoretically, he can," the author said.

"Another entrepreneur faced financial collapse. According to our information, mass dismissals took place last week at the facility belonging to LLC Director-owned company Manana Grain Gurgen Nikoghosyan,'' the Hraparak reports.

"In particular, 50% of personnel were dismissed at the processing plant stones in Surenavane and the Armaş mill. The entrepreneur declared about financial problems due to the import of cheap flour to Armenia, which caused problems for local flour producers who sell at much more expensive price.

In a recent interview he expressed support for Samvel Alexanyan's idea that it isn't worth allowing the importation of cheap flour from Russia. If the local flour isn't to be to sold mills won't work. It will lead to an absence of work places and the country will collapse,'' the newspaper reports.

The work of freight transport has stopped after the appointment of Hovhannes Hovsepyan to the post of the chairman of the Armenian State Revenue Committee, the Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper reports.

"These were those (cargo) companies that are used by entrepreneurs to import and get customs clearance for goods. We know that as a result of the suspension of works on transportation Armenia faced a shortage of some imported goods. It is observed in the wholesale market, but if it continues for 20-30 days this situation will appear in the retail market.

The question is about domestic equipment and clothing. The fact is that, thanks to cooperation with customs and certain payments, importers were formalized on the basis of weight, and now goods get customs clearance individually and exclusively on the basis of controlled prices, which are astronomical. Small and medium-sized businesses cannot compete with such high prices, as well as not compete with big and shadow businesses. This is the reason why small and medium-sized importers temporarily suspended importation,'' the newspaper concludes.

"Two months ago Aram Manukyan, the director of fisheries, suspended the production at the LLC Ararat Trout. The product, exported to the RF, was completely ruined. In response to our question why they don't export fish to Russia anymore, he said: "They do not want to buy our products. I do not know what happened, or why they want to buy at prices that are disadvantageous for us,'' Zhamanak reports.