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Press Review


“Yerkir,” the weekly newspaper of the Dashnaktsutyun party, effectively endorses the accusation of high treason brought against Armenian citizen Murad Bojolian. In a front-page article titled “Was Ter-Petrosian’s former envoy a spy?” the paper says Bojolian’s arrest on suspicion of spying for Turkey is “a new revelation of the sad situation that used to exist in Armenia’s state apparatus.” It claims that the ministry of national security “began to show interest” in Bojolian back in the early 1990s when he worked at the foreign ministry in Yerevan. The then foreign minister, Vahan Papazian, was informed that one of his employees has been placed under surveillance.

Shortly afterwards Bojolian “unexpectedly” left the foreign ministry to take up a job in an analytical department of then president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s administration headed by US citizen Jirair Libaridian. “Yerkir” says it has obtained “documents” showing that Bojolian played an “active role” in Ter-Petrosian’s efforts to normalize relations with Turkey. But it offers no proof of the government allegations that he was a Turkish spy.

“Iravunk” says the recent visit to Moscow pay Artashes Tumanian, chief of Robert Kocharian’s staff, is seen by Armenian governing circles as “a presentation of the future prime minister.” Still, it would be hard for Kocharian to find a serious pretext for sacking the current premier, Andranik Markarian. The paper notes that Markarian declined to endorse his close associate Tigran Torosian’s statement that the Republican Party will back Kocharian’s reelection bid in 2003.

Republican weekly “Zhamanak,” meanwhile, claims that Markarian’s opponents can not forgive him the fact that the situation in the country has improved during his 18-month prime ministership.

Kocharian’s press secretary, Vahe Gabrielian, tells “Aravot” that former prime minister Vazgen Sarkisian is not facing any criminal accusations in the case of the 1995 torture of senior police officers. In Gabrielian’s words, Kocharian believes that “if charges had been made that would have been immoral.” But the pro-opposition paper remains unimpressed by the explanations. It says Kocharian’s three-year presidency has only reinforced the widely held belief that “politics and morality are incompatible.”

“Iravunk” carries an interview with Vahan Shirkhanian, a former government minister who was close with the late Sarkisian and is at loggerheads with Kocharian. Shirkhanian says the Armenian president will have a “unique chance” of winning another five-year term next year.

“Azg” reports that Armenia’s ambassador to Iran, Gegham Gharibjanian, will also be named Yerevan’s envoy in Afghanistan. It is expected that Gharibjanian will hand his credentials to the head of Afghanistan’s interim government, Hamid Karzai, next month.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” suggests that Thursday’s cabinet meeting in Yerevan was chaired by Kocharian because on its agenda was a new government bill on mass media. The paper claims that the legislation aims to “restrict freedom of speech in this pre-election year.”

(Vache Sarkisian)
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