A leader of Abkhazia’s Armenian community, Galust Trapizonian, tells “Yerkir” that several Armenian villages there were “ransacked” by “Chechen and Georgian terrorist groups” as they made their way into the Kodor gorge from Georgia proper. Trapizonian accuses them of committing “inhuman atrocities” in Abkhazia’s Gulripsh district whose population is predominantly Armenian. He says local Armenians have appealed to the Armenian government to condemn the killings and demand from Georgia to rule out further “terrorist attacks.”
“Iravunk” says the entire South Caucasus has found itself “on the brink of new upheavals” following the recent tensions in Abkhazia. It notes disapprovingly that Armenia’s reaction to the events, voiced by Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, has been “cautious” and “vague.”
“I don’t think at all that the massacres in the Armenian villages were carried out by Georgian and Chechen guerrillas,” opposition leader Ashot Manucharian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” The paper finds the remarks “sensational” given Manucharian’s reputation as a staunchly pro-Russian politician. Manucharian indicantes that Moscow was behind the killings of civilians in Abkhazia, saying: “Russia has stepped on the path of exploding the region in order to maintain its role in the region.” Turning to domestic politics, Manucharian continues to assert that “Kocharian’s days are numbered.” He at the same time says that the country’s three largest opposition parties have already made some mistakes due to their “lack of experience.”
“Iravunk” claims that Kocharian and his most powerful lieutenant, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, “will seek to muzzle those who will say things unpleasant for them” with the help of the state security apparatus. The two men will unleash a “tough process” with a view towards the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2003. Those who will stand in their way will be dealt with harshly, according to the paper.
“Hayots Ashkhar,” which backs both Kocharian and Sarkisian, remains preoccupied with the parliament’s failure earlier this week to revoke the mandate of their bitter foe, the fugitive former interior minister Vano Siradeghian. The parliament vote on Siradeghian’s fate again revealed that Armenian government structures are flooded with the ex-minister’s loyalists. This assertion leads the paper to conclude that the Armenian Pan-National Movement, the former ruling party headed by Siradeghian, did not quite lose power in February 1998.