"Haykakan Zhamanak" says Armenia is marking the international media day having serious problems with freedom of expression. The paper says the authorities are seeking to stifle dissent as part of their efforts to establish full control of the country. "Only the existence of free media keeps alive hopes for Armenia's return to real democracy. After all, it is this low-circulation press that keeps ideas such as the rule of law, human rights and freedom to receive information...in the memory of the public. But the regime doesn't need this."
"Yerkir" comments that it is "absolutely normal" for any government to try to control newspapers and television stations. That could be done through their forcible closure or by "subtler" methods. The media should therefore become a more united and powerful force which any government will reckon with. But most Armenian journalists, according to the paper, can not meet the challenge as they are easily influenced by various political groups.
"Azg" complains that Armenian media has been drawn into the struggle between the government and the opposition, losing the ability to "think independently." The papers says street protests organized by journalists on world press freedom day also smack of partisan politics. "As long as there is no journalistic solidarity, no readiness to jointly protect our own rights in Armenia, any such undertaking will be regarded as a purely political, or even a partisan, initiative."
"Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" also disapproves of Friday's rally, saying that it is the result of its organizers' "professional impotence."
But as "Iravunk" writes, freedom of speech is tolerated in Armenia until it begins to have "real effects that are dangerous for the authorities. "The real face of many of our rulers is so disgusting that they look with hatred at the mirror which shows that face: the media."
"Aravot" says many members of the Yerkrapah Union have realized that President Kocharian, whom they helped cling to power after the October 1999 killings, "no longer intends to reckon with his erstwhile benefactors." "Furthermore, the president has begun to purge government bodies of Yerkrapah cadres as much as possible." In these circumstances, the Yerkrapah leadership has opted for a "middle way" between confronting Kocharian and pledging their full loyalty to the head of state.
"Hayots Ashkhar" agrees that Yerkrapah now keeps its options open, making overtures to both the authorities and opposition. "This tactics gives the Yerkrapah elite a free hand for every possible turn of events."
"Haykakan Zhamanak" says the murder of a village chief in Armavir province was the result of a "big clash between two governing clans." The local retail market is not just a source of money. Its owners have levers to affect the outcome of elections in the local constituency. The government is thus trying to strip Yerkrapah of possibilities to influence the rural electorate. But the war veterans will not give them up easily, the paper concludes.