“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that the authorities were on Thursday trying to disrupt the opposition rally in support of A1 Plus by spreading rumors about its postponement. The paper also says that the demonstration has been sanctioned authorities in Yerevan.
“Aravot” reports that A1 Plus has turned down state television’s offer to re-broadcast its news programs once a day. “We have no such plans,” says Mesrop Movsisian, director of the closed channel. “We want to keep our image on our channel.”
Avetik Ishkhanian of the Armenian Helsinki Committee tells “Aravot” that nobody should doubt the fact that A1 Plus was shut down at Robert Kocharian’s orders. Ishkhanian says some opposition forces may “exploit” the scandal but adds that the public should not care about that. He says the authorities must not be allowed to get away with what they have done to independent media.
“Hayots Ashkhar” writes that the political fallout from the broadcasting commission’s decision has harmed both A1 Plus and the authorities. The pro-Kocharian paper says the channel’s closure provided opposition parties with an opportunity to form a united front against the president. It is particularly worried about the activities of Levon Ter-Petrosian’s allies. According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” A1 Plus will be allowed to return to the air if its journalists “display necessary prudence.”
Another paper sympathetic to Kocharian, “Azg,” says his planned meeting with those journalists offers the only “realistic” way out of the situation.
“Iravunk,” meanwhile, notes sarcastically that Kocharian needs to back up the crackdown on A1 Plus with the closure of an opposition party in order to match his predecessor Ter-Petrosian’s human rights record. “Robert Kocharian has, in essence, put to display his inclination to follow the Russian model of shutting town [independent] television companies. That is, to silence the undesirable TV channel and then offer its staff jobs provided that they become more sympathetic to the authorities…That they miscalculated consequences of the A1 Plus shutdown is evident. The outcry has been very strong not only inside Armenia but also abroad.” “Iravunk” says the authorities may therefore be forced to back down, adding that the underestimation of public opinion may cost Kocharian dearly during next year’s presidential elections.
“Yerkir,” the weekly newspaper of the Dashnaktsutyun party, appears to be offended by U.S. criticism of the A1 Plus’s closure. Still, it strongly disagrees with the broadcasting commission’s decision to strip the independent TV of its frequency.
“Yerkir” also discusses Ter-Petrossian’s possible return to active politics, pointing to his recent “quite bold steps.” The paper speculates that the ex-president must have received “signals” from unspecified domestic and external forces to resume his political activities.