Armenian press review (February 11-17)

Armenian press review (February 11-17)

The last speech of the President of Armenia and possible changes to the Electoral Code of the country are in the focus of the Armenian media. The press writes about what further personnel and structural changes are expected in the government, guesses what punishment awaits the member of the Armenian delegation to PACE, Naira Zohrabyan, for insulting a Turkish MP, and wonders why the United States is providing grants for the fight against corruption to the corrupt Armenian government.

The Armenian media is discussing the latest statement by the Armenian President. 168 Zham writes: "Perhaps the last speech of Serzh Sargsyan will be discussed for a long time, because there is nothing else left to discuss in Armenia's political life. Therefore, Sargsyan in his speeches no longer speaks about the opposition, but addresses them to the members of his own team, without specifying names, of course. When the Armenian opposition was strong, the authorities could not afford such a luxury. But it was made possible because the Armenian opposition afforded the luxury of identifying the revolution with Gagik Tsarukyan, who instead of a power shift, was 'moved' himself, taking the opposition activity with him," the newspaper concludes.

The Chorrord Ishkhanutyun newspaper writes: "Do you remember the daily routine of Baron Munchausen? A particular day, a particular hour must be accompanied by a feat. Apparently, the work schedule of Serzh Sargsyan also contains such a thing. But instead of deeds it says 'a wise speech'. It's a tragedy when the de-facto leader of the country makes a long speech, but no one is interested in its content. People expect from him a very short and specific performance, in which he asks for forgiveness and announces his resignation," the author concludes.

The same newspaper writes: "It seems that Serzh Sargsyan's speech has angered many people. And not because it didn't correspond to reality and everybody understood that it was just another show, but because it has become apparent that Serzh Sargsyan is quite aware of what a normal country means. After all, it's one thing when a person does not know what to do, so he does everything in the wrong way or does nothing at all, and it's quite another thing when a person knows what to do, but does not do it," the author says.

The Haykakan Zhamanak daily notes: "At a time when the public is actively discussing when the Republican Party of Armenia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation ‘Dashnaktsutyun’ will sign an agreement, another thing is getting more interesting – namely, when these agreements will be broken. That is, when the coalition will split. This question is present at least in the context of the parliamentary elections in 2017," the newspaper notes.

The head of the Russian Union of Armenians, Ara Abramyan, who presented the application for the development of political activity in Armenia, these days is actively spreading rumors that he was given a 'green light' in Moscow on the beginning of the process for a change of power in the republic, the Chorrord Ishkhanutyun newspaper writes. In particular, the newspaper notes that "one of Ara Abramyan's information platforms" issued a message of a similar formulation yesterday.

"According to our Moscow sources, Putin's entourage does not mind if Serzh Sargsyan is dismissed in the early presidential elections. According to the same sources, Serzh Sargsyan has already fulfilled his primary mission: he annexed Armenia to the Eurasian Economic Union. The main purpose of Russia after this is the consolidation of Armenia's current status so that its people won't be disappointed in their choice. And if it is necessary to dismiss Sargsyan from power, Moscow is not against such a development. As the same source notes, Russia will be concerned if it notices the West's involvement in these processes," Chorrord Ishkhanutyun cited Ara Abramyan's information platform as saying.

The Armenian media inform about pending changes to the Electoral Code of Armenia. The Chorrord Ishkhanutyun newspaper writes: "The head of the National Assembly's staff, Hrayr Tovmasyan, said that we must speak with some reservations about the electronic voting system, because there is no confidence in the electoral system in Armenia. This is a really ingenious approach. The opposition says that since Armenia has no confidence in the electoral system, it is necessary to develop a model for e-voting, which would rule out voting fraud. And Hrayr Tovmasyan says that, because there is no confidence in the electoral system, it is not necessary to think about electronic voting, or it must be assessed with reservations. How do we explain to Hrayr Tovmasyan that if there was confidence in the electoral system in Armenia, there would be no need for e-voting at all?!"

It was reported last week that staff and structural changes are expected again in the government of Armenia, the Hraparak reports.

"In addition to the division of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Emergency Management, it is planned to separate the State Revenue Committee of the Ministry of Finance where Vache Gabrielyan, the minister of international economic integration and reform, will be appointed as the head of the agency and Deputy Minister will become ARF member Ara Nranyan. Gagik Khachatryan will remain the head of the State revenue Committee again. And Yervand Zakharyan is to retire. There are some disagreements in respect of the matter of the appointment. Hovik Abrahamyan considers that the post will be hold by chairman of the parliamentary commission on education Artak Davtyan who was the Energy Deputy Minister in 2003-2004. Meantime, the president's residence is welcoming the candidacy of Deputy Chairman KP Levon Eolyan," the newspaper reports.

Turkish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe presented a protest in connection with the behavior of the PACE Bureau member from Armenia Naira Zohrabyan, the Haykakan Zhamanak reports.

According to our sources, Agramunt is resolute: it is not excluded that the issue will be submitted to the Commission on regulations, and sanctions against Zohrabyan will be imposed at the spring session of PACE in April. The Naira Zohrabyan's voting right is being discussed at the moment. Recall that during the winter session of PACE Margar Yesayan voted for the report of British MP Robert Walter "The increase in violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan", and then Naira Zohrabyan came to him at the room," the edition notes.

Editor of Aravot writes: "The US government has allocated about $750,000 to our government to fight against corruption. Certainly, it can be taken as a funny joke –  wolves were ordered to protect sheep, but they will also receive food for it.'' You should agree that the strange step is explained in a more strange way. Indeed, the United States is interested in the deepening of corruption in Armenia, that is why the money was allocated to our corrupt government, but corruption in Armenia is "successfully" developing without foreign investments, so it is illogical to admit that new donations will contribute to this,'' the editor concludes.

The newspaper Zhoghovurd reports: "Chairman of the State Commission for Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC) Artak Shaboyan has used his meaningless phrase the umpteenth time: "This market is located in the center of our attention, "Why does it meaningful? Because experience shows that SCPEC's attention means nothing if we speak about large companies with powerful "roofs".  The Catherine group is one of such companies, which belongs to the head of service of compulsory executions of judicial acts of Mihran Poghosyan and it is the only importer of bananas to Armenia,'' the edition summed up.

The Haykakan Zhamanak writes: "As it expected, the Council of the Central Bank of Armenia has decreased the refinancing rate by 0.25% and fixed it at the level of 8.5%. It can be noted that the Central Bank chose a rather cautious tactics. The matter is that according to the law "On the budget" inflation in Armenia should reach 2.5-5.5% during 12 months, but there is a deflation of 0.4% now. It allows the Central Bank to do more sharp movements to reduce the refinancing rate more rapidly. It led to a significant reduction of interest rates on loans, consequently, activization  of the economy. The reason for this timid approach of the Central bank is not so clear. Reduction of the refinancing rate by 0.25% doesn't activate the economy and it won't lead to an increase in inflation. Does the Central Bank have a fear that despite the significant reduction in the external market increase in prices will begin in our monopolized economy?"theauthorofthepublication asks.

According to our sources, a few days ago the Minister of Transport and Communication of Armenia Gagik Beglaryan gathered representatives of loyal criminal circles to him and announced that he intended become the mayor of Yerevan in 2018 once again, the Zhamanak reports.

"He said that for this purpose the work should be organized in 2016 so that the parliamentary elections that are to take place next year in the Yerevan district of Centre took place perfectly. According Beglaryan, this fact will allow him to receive the authorities' consent for the implementation of programs in 2018," the newspaper reports.

Our sources close to the Ministry of Economy and Finance confirm the deepening of the tendency of people's dismissal from large enterprises, which are under their supervision, the Haykakan Zhamanak reports.

"According to their reports, about 1,000 people were dismissed from large companies during the recent month. The reason is the current difficult economic conditions, which force companies to reduce costs. Official data on changes in the number of employees in the last quarter of last year haven't been published yet, but the monitoring of large taxpayers, published by the Armenian Ministry of Finance show that the number of employees decreased by 3,600 people during the year from 520 large enterprises," the author notes.

The SCPEC said, answering the question of a correspondent of the Haykakan Zhamanak, why the price of gasoline Armenia is more expensive than in Russia, as well as at what price the Armenian companies purchase Russian gasoline, that this information is a commercial secret, and its distribution may strike interests of certain economic operators of the corresponding sphere.

"If you know this information you can understand how it turns out that the price of gasoline in Armenia is almost twice expensive than in Russia. Meanwhile, last week the head of SCPEC Artak Shaboyan said in an interview with reporters about readiness to provide such information in case of such an inquiry. In fact, it is not a normal thing that  gasoline prices are a ''commercial secret'' in Armenia," the newspaper reports.

"The monument that immortalizes the memory of the national hero of Armenia Karen Demirchyan, whose merits were discussed during 15 years, was finally installed in Yerevan this year. According to preliminary decision, the opening is to take place on April 12th," Haykakan Zhamanak reports.

"According to the chief architect of Yerevan Tigran Barseghyan, the sculpture of Karen Demirchyan was ordered from Tigran Arzumanyan. 80% of the monument is ready. The monument will be made from the Karabakh white marble. It should be noted that the winner for the design of the Demirchyan monument wasn't announced after several tenders. However, the date of the opening is not final and it seems that the position of the family of Karen Demirchyan and the City Hall are mutually exclusive. The Yerevan Municipality intend to install and open the monument in April, but the family wants to postpone this date until next year before the 85th anniversary of Karen Demirchyan. According to some reports, in any case Mayor Taron Margaryan has already decided not to postpone the event,'' the newspaper reports.

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