Commenting on last week’s anti-presidential rally held by the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, “Zhamanak” says former prime minister Aram Sarkisian and his allies should give up hope of coming to power through street protests. The crowd at the demonstration was not in a mood of engaging in “revolutionary games.” Hanrapetutyun should instead work on making sure that the next elections are free and fair.
The Russian-language “Golos Armenii” claims that RFE/RL’s Armenian Service is very unhappy with the latest upturn in Russian-Armenian relations and is therefore giving a highly biased coverage of Kocharian’s activities to discredit the current authorities. RFE/RL, the pro-government paper says, deliberately inflated the turnout at the Hanrapetutyun rally as part of its drive to “glorify” the anti-Kocharian opposition (which, strangely enough, is widely seen as more pro-Russian than the current Armenian leadership).
“Aravot” writes that the government’s stance in the tariff dispute with the ArmenTel telecom operator is purely populist. Senior officials, including Minister of Transport and Communications Andranik Manukian, have urged Armenians not to comply with a new payment system introduced by ArmenTel last month. The paper says this is not the way a “responsible government” should have acted. It should have either sued the Greek-owned company or just not interfered in the affair.
“Yerkir” is worried that nobody has been charged yet in connection with last week’s alleged murder of Dashnaktsutyun member Poghos Poghosian by Robert Kocharian’s bodyguards. There are now growing rumors that some senior law-enforcement officers are intimidating witnesses of the crime in order to cover up the bodyguards’ involvement. The witnesses must be protected by all means and Kocharian must personally guarantee their safety, the paper concludes.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that criminal proceedings have been launched against Mushegh Saghatelian, a former chief of Armenia’s prisons and a bitter opponent of Kocharian. Saghatelian is accused of fabricating last year false testimony implicating Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian in the October 1999 killings in the parliament.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” alleges that the authorities may falsify the upcoming census of Armenia’s population. Its results could be rigged so as to inflate the number of people living in Armenia. This would make election rigging easier for the authorities.