Armenian press review February 25 - March 2

Armenian press review February 25 - March 2

The signing of a coalition agreement between the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and the ARF Dashnaktsutyun remains in the focus of Armenian media. The press discusses why the initiative of the head of Russian Armenians Union to establish a new political party fails, wonders what EU High Representative Federica Mogherini had brought with her to Armenia, and are surprised why former prisoners call criminal executive institution 'Nubarashen' a "slaughterhouse".

The signing of the coalition agreement between the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and ARF Dashnaktsutyun remains in the focus of the Armenian media. So, in connection with this signing, 'Zhamanak' newspaper writes: "The fact that they had to present this cooperation as cooperation for the good of the homeland did not cause any doubts. After all, everyone knows whose last refuge patriotism is ... However, in  Armenian political life, in fact, nothing happened – just repetition, but this time by the RPA and the ARF. Judging by the memorandum signed between them, the agreements between RPA and ARF are not completed. The thing is that the text of the memorandum is actually about the fact that there is still a problem of reallocation of public and government resources. This is evidenced by numerous items of the document. Probably for this reason the memorandum is deprived of any specifics, not only regarding the problems mentioned, but also ways to solve them," the author concludes.

Assessing the cooperation between the RPA and the ARF, the same 'Zhamanak' newspaper writes: "The skepticism of society regarding the 'saving' and 'future-oriented' deal between the RPA and the ARF is obvious. The reason for such skepticism is not the past and not the future, but the present. One circumstance is enough for this deal to have such an attitude. The thing is that these two forces did not provide any reasonable explanation for what the RPA did not have to do that they promised to do together with the ARF. At the same time, not only the RPA, but also the ARF cannot give the answer to this simple question. Either they do not know why they have united, or they know, but this union pursues completely different goals, of which they cannot tell the public," the newspaper writes.

Continuing this topic, the Armenian press widely commented on the statements of the ARF parliamentary faction leader, Armen Rustamyan, about the fact that after the Dashnaks, convicted in the 1990s, Armenia had no political prisoners.

For example, the 'Chorrord Ishkhanutiun' newspaper writes: "In other words, hundreds of people arrested before and after the events of March 1st, 2008, including those that are colleagues of Armen Rustamyan in parliament today, were criminal offenders. Hundreds of detained members and supporters of the opposition movement in 2003-2004 were criminals, as well as Shant Harutyunyan and his companions, who opposed the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Armenia in 2013. And they, Dashnaks, in the 90s, were engaged purely in political activity. Well, what did they do? Just wanted to blow up the presidential plane a little, carefully hang senior officials of the country on trees and so on ... It does not matter that parties, the governing bodies of which are located abroad, are banned on the territory of Armenia. And the ARF Bureau, luckily, was located in Athens."

The publication continues to be ironic on this topic: "Do you by any chance remember who was the minister of internal affairs and national security of Armenia in the years when Dashnak political prisoners were in prisons? We also do not remember his name, but a few days ago we saw on television how he stood next to Grant Markaryan, with a satisfied smile, watched how the RPA and the ARF signed an agreement."

The topic is continued by the '168 Zham' newspaper: "Even the most ardent representatives of the RPA are trying to be more accurate on the issue of assessment of the presence of political prisoners in Armenia, because, at least after the 2008 presidential elections, Armenia had at least a few dozen of them, and someone is bound to take this into account. But power, as they say, is often blinding. There is also an opinion that government influences adequacy of memory. Perhaps, in exchange for giving them ministerial portfolios, the ARF members have committed themselves to act so that in comparison with them, the Republicans look like real advocates of democracy and freedom of thought. They are pretty good at it," the author of the publication concludes.

According to rumors, the aim of the second phase of scattering the 'Prosperous Armenia' Party (PAP) potential, is a complete weakening of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, who has already lost positions, so that the latter was not able to promote PAP for the role of the second political force during the parliamentary elections, which will be held next spring, the 'Irates de facto' newspaper writes.

"For PAP, for two very simple reasons, it will be very difficult to overcome the 5% barrier: firstly, it will not be able to enlist the support of that part of electorate which remains under the ruins of the memories of Gagik Tsarukyan, and secondly, in the future composition of the National Assembly (Parliament) of Armenia, opposition fragments will not be allowed to get a lot of mandates, so that it was not able to consolidate, creating certain problems for the ruling RPA," the newspaper notes.

The initiative of the head of the Russia Armenians Union, Ara Abrahamyan, on establishment of a political party in Armenia for participation in parliamentary elections next spring is close to failure, the 'Zhoghovurd' newspaper reports, citing its own sources.

"According to incoming reports, Ara Abrahamyan does not wish to single-handedly solve the problem of financing the project, because he is well aware that the initiative contains high risks, and it is possible that his newly made party will not be able to obtain mandates at the elections to the National Assembly in 2017. Accordingly, for several months, he undertook a series of attempts to find other "investors" for the establishment of his party, even in the United States. We have tried to clarify this information from the chairman of the Democratic Party of Armenia (DPA), Aram Sarksyan, who, as we know, is the deputy head of the Russia Armenians Union, as they say, a man of the inner circle of Ara Abrahamyan, worthy of his trust. However, in an interview with our correspondent, Sargsyan stated this: "These issues are handled by Abrahamyan only, so ask him. This issue has nothing to do with me," the author of the publication quotes him as saying.

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini's visit to the South Caucasus, especially in terms of of Armenia, according to rumors, brought jealous Moscow to deep "heart sufferings", 'Irates de facto' newspaper writes.

"Those Armenians who are 'more Catholic than the Pope' and even the Russian ambassador to Armenia Ivan Volinkin himself, intend to follow the visit of the European emissary very closely, in order to see and understand what she will say, and what answer of the Armenian leadership will follow. Because against the background of the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2017, the woman from Europe clearly brought 'sandwiches and cookies' with her, and regarding the stick, the parties will understand each other without words. The thing is that, until now the Armenian side responded to the 'love' of the EU very diplomatically and moderately, but now, after the constitutional reforms, Russia is concerned — what if the Armenians suddenly became too confident?" the newspaper notes.

The newspaper ‘Hraparak’ writes about the allegations of the civil rights activist Vardges Gaspari that in prison he was subjected to beatings and humiliation in the dungeons of Nubarashen.

‘’ The egregious cases of torture against Gaspari, that were told by him, indicate that the places of detention are lawless territories, and human rights abuses and thieving orders have reached their pinnacle. Gaspari compared the ‘Nubarashen’ penitentiary to a slaughterhouse, where anyone can become a victim – even that one, who subjects others to ill-treatment," the newspaper writes.

The newspaper ‘Haykakan Zhamanak’ writes: ‘’Yesterday the Ministry of Finance of Armenia published information on tax and duty collection in January of this year. According to this reference, it was collected for 2.7% less taxes and fees for the mentioned period than in January 2015. In fact, the shortfall, which was observed for almost the whole of 2015, continues this year. Last year Armenia's budget was not fulfilled in the amount of about 70 billion drams. And given that AMD has depreciated, the budget shortfall is about $400 million."

The volumes of transfers sent to Armenia continue to break a ‘record’, the newspaper ‘Zhoghovurd’ writes: "As you know, since the beginning of last year the volume of transfers began to decline sharply, and these indicators are equal with distant 2007. It was a time when it seemed that it could not be worse. However, the volumes of the transfers translated in January indicate that it can be even worse. The newspaper found out from the official documents that the net inflow of transfers to individuals' names were $29 million 372 thousand in January of this year. in January 2015 this figure was $36 million 821 thousand, and in 2014 – $78 million 614 thousand.

The indicator below that was registered only in distant 2005. Even in 2006 the net inflow of transfers was much larger and amounted to $31 million 128 thousand. This means that the economy of Armenia, which exists mainly due to transfers, continues to grow scanty,  the newspaper writes.

The National Statistical Service of Armenia (NSS) has made a mess with the growth of the economy,’’ Haykakan Zhamanak writes. ‘’In 2015, the Armenian GDP per capita decreased by 2.6% in comparison with the previous year. In 2014 the figure was $3,610, and in 2015 it was $3,515.

This is an official figure published by NSS, and it is remarkable that the same service recorded a 3% growth of the economy in 2015, that is, the growth of the Gross Domestic Product. It turns out, that our GDP grew, but at the same time fell as well. This, of course, is due to the exchange course between the dollar and the dram. But if we want to study, say, the economic indicators of Zimbabwe, Gabon, Japan, Canada, we take their dollar value as a basis. Therefore, we can note a 2.6% decline in the economy, but not 3% growth, that was recorded in Armenia in the past year,’’ the newspaper writes.

Armenia is a hostage of the mining industry, Haykakan Zhamanak writes.

‘’The fears that the Armenian economy is hooked on the ‘mining needle’ are more acute than could be expected. According to the NSS data published yesterday, it is clear that the mining sphere grew 76% in January of this year, when the manufacturing had a decline of 6.3%. And in the most ‘solid’ manufacturing industry, in food production a decline of more than 8% was recorded. And mainly due to a growth of 76% recorded in the mining industry, a 15.7% increase was recorded in industry. It should be noted that copper concentrate production alone increased by 85%,‘’ the publication writes.

The insolvency manager of the JSC 'The Karen Demirchyan Sport and Concert Complex’, Arsene Chitchyan, intends to submit a claim to the court of general jurisdiction of the administrative districts Center and Nork-Marash for sale of his property through a public auction, the newspaper ‘Zhoghovurd’ reports.

‘’The insolvency manager seeks court permission to sell the property of CJSC in a quantity of one item, but via the classical mechanism. It is expected that the auction will take place on April 1st this year. The starting price of the item exceeds 2.5 billion drams. By the way, the lenders have the right to appeal the claim in a  7- days period,’’ the author of the publication reminds.

Three hundred employees of the gold mine Armanis did not receive their salaries for two months, Hraparak writes. "Yesterday the employees of the gold mine Armanis of the Lori region called the newspaper and reported that the plant has not paid them for mission downtime for two months. According to them, it is not clear in general when the plant will be able to pay them, because it is rumored that it is under arrest. Recall that the gold mine Armanis was closed at the end of last year. According to the  employees who called us, the factory owed wages for two months to.approximately 300 employees. The employees also complained that although the plant cannot pay salaries, it takes new employees, for example, the deputy chief of the security service,’’ the newspaper writes.

Young mothers expect that soon the price of children's diapers will fall sharply in Armenia. The fact is that a second company importing diapers has appeared on the market and it already sells the goods at a much lower price. For example, if earlier a pack of Pampers №5 was sold for 7370 AMD, now its price is AMD 5600, the newspaper ‘Haykakan Zhamanak’ writes.

"We tried to find out from the representatives of the company ‘ARGE BUSINESS’, which today is still the only known company engaged in import of diapers, whether they have reduced the prices for these goods.

‘’There are lot of diapers on the market that come to Armenia from Turkey via an unknown route, they do not pay taxes and sell their goods at a more affordable price than the company that imports, pays taxes, pays employees and has more expensive products,’’ a sales department manager of ARGE BUSINESS told us in an interview, while noting that they have not changed the price of diapers for more than a year, Haykakan Zhamanak notes.


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