President Robert Kocharian shrugs off through a spokesman the allegation, made by the former chief of Armenia’s prisons, that he and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian has masterminded the October 1999 assassinations in the parliament. Presidential press secretary Vahe Gabrielian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that Mushegh Saghatelian is now under investigation for allegedly manipulating the parliament attack investigation and is trying to portray the case against him as politically motivated. With his accusations against Kocharian, Saghatelian wants to present himself as a victim of political persecution,” according to Gabrielian.
“Yerkir” writes that the murder of a Dashnaktsutyun activist in a Yerevan café exposed the “atmosphere of fear” in Armenia, with very few witnesses of the crime willing to testify publicly. The Dashnak newspaper is unhappy with the course of the investigation. Prosecutors have so far not levelled criminal charges against anybody.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” is convinced that “the real murderer will hardly be tracked down and punished” because “he is a member of Robert Kocharian’s security guard.” The paper says Kocharian is unlikely to allow the prosecution and imprisonment of any of his bodyguards. This would set a negative precedent for the security apparatus on which the Armenian president has relied heavily.
But as “Iravunk” reports, the leader of the Dashnak faction in the parliament, Aghvan Vartanian, does not think there now exists an atmosphere of fear in the country. Vartanian is confident that the case will be solved and the guilty will be punished, arguing that some important witnesses have already given testimony to the investigators.
“Iravunk,” analyzing the latest political developments, says that the “radical opposition” in Armenia contents itself with “abstract judgements.” Its highly publicized collection of signatures in support of impeachment proceedings against the president is a gimmick. For the three opposition parties taking on Kocharian this is just an opportunity to score more points. As for the presidential camp, it is also engaged in the “imitation of actions,” trying to soothe the disaffected population with “bloated [economic] figures” and aggressive anti-opposition propaganda. The problem is that people just don’t buy it anymore.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reasons that the Armenian Communist Party’s Thursday demonstration was a gross failure. The Communists had promised to mobilize a 25,000-strong crowd for the rally, but less than two thousand people actually turned up. A high turnout would have allowed the Communists to ask a high price from the mainstream opposition groups that are keen to capitalize on the HKK’s popularity among elderly Armenians. Now the HKK is of little value to both the authorities and the opposition. This is a good news for the latter. It will never have a “Trojan horse” in its ranks.
The change of the country’s leadership is not the Communists’ chief priority these days, one of their leaders, Gagik Tadevosian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” He says the opposition troika is against the idea of joining the Russia-Belarus union. So there is no reason for the Communists to join the looming opposition alliance.