Armenian newspapers report on a joint statement by several leading opposition parties accusing the authorities of illegally preventing them from holding in-doors gatherings in conference halls across the country. The parties say they are thus being forced to take “unbalanced actions.”
“Aravot” quotes former prime minister Aram Sarkisian as saying that he has no regrets about not forcing Robert Kocharian into resignation in the wake of the 1999 parliament shootings. “I believe that I did a right thing because the situation was clear to me after that. I saw who is who,” Sarkisian explains. “When there was a real opportunity to change the president I didn’t see who could be the next president and that is the main reason why the escalation didn’t occur.” The ex-premier, who now leads the opposition Hanrapetutyun, denies having presidential ambitions. He also claims that Kocharian can not secure reelection next year without resorting to vote-rigging.
A prominent representative of Armenia’s former leadership, Ara Sahakian, writes in “Haykakan Zhamanak” that the current regime is not as strong as it appears to be at the moment. Sahakian says that only the parties sympathetic to former president Levon Ter-Petrossian can be considered a “real opposition.” The opposition groups represented in the parliament, Sahakian continues, need to “repent” because they are responsible for “the 1998 coup d’etat” that brought Kocharian to power.
Armenian writer Gurgen Khanjian defends opponents of the abolition of capital punishment, in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” He argues that Armenia does not have adequate facilities to keep convicts in jail for the rest of their life. Khanjian’s another argument is that a criminal sentenced to life imprisonment under one government may be released under another.
An aide to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian criticizes the Georgian authorities for their strongly negative reaction to recent calls for Tbilisi to grant autonomy to the Armenian-populated Javakhetia region. Stepan Markarian tells “Azg” that the local Armenians did not engage in “separatist activities” even under Georgia’s late nationalist president Zviad Gamsakhurdia. All they want, he says, is to have a say in the formation of local authorities.