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Oligarchs in Armenia control levers of political power

03 March 2015 [10:48] - TODAY.AZ
/By AzerNews/

By Mushvig Mehdiyev

Armenia is at the hands of powerful individuals, a famous British journalist at the Carnegie Endowment believes.

"We can expect angry public voices to be heard in Armenia this spring," Thomas de Waal wrote in his report about the South Caucasus, hinting to a possible tug of political war.

De Waal, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, specializing primarily in the South Caucasus region comprising of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, analyzed Armenia's gloomy political atmosphere in his recent report about the South Caucasus.

De Waal insists that a political drama has played out in Armenia over the past two weeks in which leading oligarch and leader of the country’s main alternative political party Gagik Tsarukyan first challenged President Serzh Sargsyan and then capitulated.

De Waal believes that Tsarukyan's surrender was his plan to insure his business empire from a dangerous attack by the government.

"It is to be assumed that the price of Tsarukian’s capitulation was that a threatened investigation into his monopolies will be called off," de Waal claimed.

The Armenian leadership, de Waal said, should no longer fear a revolt of the oligarchs following the severe crackdown on Tsarukyan.

"But Armenian population is indignant and less intimidated. Trust in politics as a whole has reached an all-time low in Armenia," he added, predicting a tense political days in the country in spring.

Going on his opinion about the economy in Armenia, de Waal noted that Armenia had an overall weaker economy, heavily intertwined with Russia.

"Its currency, the dram, has also weakened over the past year, but, ironically, the fact that it has devalued less than the ruble has had negative effects on Armenia, cutting Armenian exports to Russia and forcing thousands of migrant workers resident in Russia to come home," he added.

Armenia's integration into the Eurasian Economic Union has got a bad mark also from de Waal, when he said the recent economic stagnation in the country was triggered as the government has yoked the country even more strongly to Russia by joining the EEU.

Oligarchic economy in Armenia, as per de Waal thinking, is at the hands of powerful individuals, such as Tsarukyan, who dominate the economy and manipulate prices of key goods, buffering themselves against misfortune, such as a falling dram, and exposing the population to more misery.

Referring to Armenian economist Garen Yegparian, de Waal noted that these tycoons in Armenia are privatizing the benefits and socializing the costs of the dram’s fluctuations in value.

"They can do this because they also control the levers of political power, and make the rules to suit their own personal, not the country’s and broad population’s, interests,” de Waal concluded in his opinion about Armenia's economic and political life.

Armenia experienced a tense political week featuring a brawl between Sargsyan and Tsarukyan, beginning with the latter's plea warning the authorities to reckon with the people's opinion.

Tsarukyan's "rifle" emerged out of bullets on February 19 following tête-a-tête talks with Sargsyan. Right after leaving the negotiation table, the opposition frontrunner announced his withdrawal from the political battlefield.

URL: http://www.today.az/news/regions/138963.html

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