A renowned defense attorney and legal expert, Tigran Janoyan tells "Hayots Ashkhar" that Armenia is not any closer to finding out the truth about the 1999 parliament shootings exactly one year after the trial of its perpetrators started. The trial is still at its early stages and the court still has to question more than a hundred persons, which means that the end of the trial is a long way off. But Janoyan disagrees with those who believe that the authorities are dragging out the proceedings.
"Although the country is mired in corruption we have seen no major revelation in the last ten years. Big thieves go down in history while petty ones end up in jail because of the absence of professionalism," editorializes "Hayots Ashkhar." And yet the fact is that security agencies have always diligently gathered discrediting information about senior government officials. That was hardly done for asserting the rule of law though. At least no high-ranking official was dismissed for corrupt practices, the paper notes.
The leader of the Orinats Yerkir party, Artur Baghdasarian, complains in a "Haykakan Zhamanak" interview about the continuing "penetration of the militant ignorance into the government system." Baghdasarian claims that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has ordered local self-government administration leaders to hire only members of his Republican Party. At least 60 percent of local chiefs are Republicans, he says, accusing the governing party of trying to "predetermine" the outcome of next year's elections. "There is no unified government system in the country. We are in a situation of complete irresponsibility. Political forces that formed the government do not bear any responsibility for mass illegalities going on in the country," Baghdasarian says.
Former prime minister Aram Sarkisian, also very critical of the authorities, is primarily concerned that pro-government forces may use public funds for electoral purposes. It will be hard to prevent them from doing so, he tells "Haykakan Zhamanak." Sarkisian also indicates that he is unlikely to be a candidate in next year's presidential elections.
Newspapers continue to lambaste the media bill approved by the government and sent to parliament last week. "Azg" says the draft legislation is part of the government's election preparations. It says the government wants to ward off media criticism in the run-up to the polls.
The editors of "Yerkir" and "Haykakan Zhamanak," interviewed by "Hayots Ashkhar," say the bill contradicts the Armenian constitution. They warn that its passage by the parliament could lead to the restoration of censorship.
Similar concerns are voiced in an "Aravot" editorial. The paper says the bill would allow the authorities to muzzle independent media on the grounds that they spread "false information" or "harm citizens' health." "Every article of the [draft] law gives judges catering to the authorities grounds to make arbitrary interpretations and conclusions."