“Or” publicizes a litany of abuse directed at the independent Armenian media by Karo Israelian, the mayor of Abovian accused of ordering last week’s attack on a local TV station. The mayor also tells the paper he is “the most democratic person on the planet.” This gives “Or” reason to question the mental sanity of the flamboyant mayor. The paper says Israelian’s case shows that every Armenian citizen must undergo psychiatric tests before being allowed to get elected or appointed to a senior post. It warns that if Israelian is not brought to account, the October 20 local elections could be accompanied by more “bloody scandals.”
“Azg” is also worried that Armenian journalists may face more such attacks before and during the local, presidential and parliamentary elections. They will be particularly vulnerable to violence in areas outside Yerevan where local “petty princes” feel that they are omnipotent. “None of the law-enforcement structures seems to be worried about that,” the paper says.
Sociologist Lyudmila Harutiunian, citing results of her research, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that Armenians are now alienated from their government and political elite. They feel that their rulers do not care about the people’s opinion. But she finds it encouraging that “the people have started to realize what democracy is all about” and are more determined to fight for their rights. Topping their list of their priorities are socioeconomic problems such as poverty and unemployment. They believe that combating corruption is even more important than resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to Harutiunian. She says she and her colleagues do not plan to conduct voter surveys ahead of the elections. Harutiunian also does not believe that the authorities have already decided who should sit in the next Armenian parliament.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” anticipates that the pro-government forces will win the October 20 local elections “without a fight.” “The opposition parties think that by not putting forward candidates for local government bodies they boost their chances in the presidential elections,” the paper notes with bewilderment. It quotes a leading member of the opposition National Accord party, Aleksan Karapetian, as saying that the opposition “does not want to waste extra resources” on the local polls. “We must concentrate our entire potential and win in the presidential elections,” Karapetian explains. Hanrapetutyun party leader Albert Bazeyan, for his part, says vaguely that the newly formed opposition coalition may field single candidates for the local elections.
“It is thus evident that the authorities will install their individuals in local self-government bodies without serious resistance. That will be their springboard to the presidential and parliamentary elections,” concludes “Haykakan Zhamanak.”