“Aravot” carries a statement by the opposition Hanrapetutyun party blaming President Kocharian for the seven-year prison sentence given to the former prisons chief, Mushegh Saghatelian. “Robert Kocharian has once again proved that he bears political responsibility for organizing the October 27 crime,” the paper says. Hanrapetutyun voices its solidarity with Saghatelian whom it describes as a “political prisoner.”
“Orran” says Saghatelian was thrown into jail for publicly expressing his “suspicions regarding the masterminds of October 27.” He is not the only one who harbors them. “The authorities, for some unknown reason, think that by imprisoning Mushegh they dispel those suspicions. In fact, those suspicions are deepening further,” the paper writes, calling the trial a “farce.” The paper also chides Saghatelian’s “Yerkrapah friends” for their silence.
But “Hayots Ashkhar,” whose editor was beaten by Saghatelian in 1996, says the case is not politically motivated because the former prison boss is “just a criminal offender.” It is “immoral” to describe him as a political prisoner, the paper says. It also regrets that the trial of the once powerful security official “has had no impact on the society.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” is also worried about what it says is a sharp rise in the number of contract killings in Armenia. A restaurant owner and his driver were gunned down in Yerevan late on Friday. It was the seventh such killing committed this week, according to the paper.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Thursday’s cabinet meeting chaired by Kocharian took place in an “extremely tense atmosphere.” “The president made uncharacteristically harsh remarks about certain ministers.” This, the paper says, could mean that Kocharian believes in reports that some governing factions are secretly encouraging the opposition to continue to raise the impeachment issue.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also reports that 13 opposition parties, buoyed by the latest developments, plan to rally supporters outside the parliament building on June 10 to pressurize deputies into discussing the possibility of impeachment proceedings against Kocharian. A Hanrapetutyun spokesman, Suren Sureniants, says they may even hold a demonstration in Yerevan on June 7.
“Golos Armenii” makes the point that of those 13 parties only Hanrapetutyun has “played relatively honestly and believed in the slogans voiced on Freedom Square.” “The others have simply tried to draw benefits in its vertical field of activity and make use of its hard work, and, in times of crisis, have pulled back, leaving [Hanrapetutyun] alone.”
Vazgen Manukian tells “Orran” that his National Democratic Union (AZhM) party will not back Kocharian in next year’s presidential elections. “If we look from the purely popular standpoint, he has very slim chances,” Manukian says. But he cautions that Kocharian is not facing a popular opposition candidate. “There is no such alternative candidate yet. And since that standoff [between the two camps] does not exist, the people are indifferent,” Manukian says.