Thursday, October 31
"Hayots Ashkhar" discusses growing antipathy in Russia toward dark-skinned people from the Caucasus. "For the majority of Russians, the differentiation of Caucasians into Chechens, Georgians, Armenians or Azerbaijanis is very relative. There are just 'blacks' who have occupied their country and who must be dealt with harshly." The paper predicts that anti-Armenian sentiment will escalate further in Russia, and result in even more violent acts. "We must perceive that as something inevitable and, instead of succumbing to panic, again converge on our homeland little by little."
"Hayots Ashkhar" quotes in this regard Hovannes Hovannisian, chairman of the Armenian parliament's foreign relations committee, as saying that many Armenians, who emigrated to Russia in the 1990s in search of work, will start returning home soon. "We must take serious steps to ensure smooth work of all infrastructures in the event of such an influx," he says. "If they return and find that we have not addressed all those problems…they could create an extremely difficult problem for the state.
"Haykakan Zhamanak" reports that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) will decide by November 20 whether to support President Robert Kocharian in the presidential elections. The party's parliamentary leader, Armen Rustamian, expects heated debates at the meeting of Dashnaktsutyun's governing body in Armenia. "So one should not rule out a decision to contest the upcoming presidential elections with our own candidate," he says. Rustamian also says we would welcome former President Levon Ter-Petrosian's participation in the ballot because that would give Armenians a real choice between two different "ideologies." An election battle along the ideological lines would make Armenian politics "more civilized," according to Rustamian.
"Orran" says the people will be bombarded by numerous promises of better life in the run-up to the elections.
Wednesday, October 30
Minister For Local Government Hovik Abrahamian tells "Haykakan Zhamanak" that he thinks that staff changes in the government following the recent local elections are unlikely. The paper says President Kocharian is against a cabinet reshuffle.
Kocharian's chief of staff, Artashes Tumanian denies, in an "Aravot" interview, aspiring to replace Andranik Markarian as prime minister. He blames the media for spreading such a rumor. Tumanian also denies any connection with the bitter criticism of Markarian, which was publicly voiced last August by Yervand Aghvanian, then-mayor of Echmiadzin and his longtime friend. "Being the head of the presidential staff, I can not subject the prime minister and government appointed by the prime minister to sharp criticism," he says.
But as "Haykakan Zhamanak" reports, Kocharian is trying to annul election results in some of those communities that were won by candidates from Markarian's Republican Party (HHK). Those include Echmiadzin, whose mayor Aghvanian was defeated by a Republican challenger, Hrach Abgarian. A local court began on Tuesday hearing an appeal brought by Aghvanian. The paper also quotes a leading HHK member, Galust Sahakian, as warning other unspecified "governing forces" that "the Republicans will not give up their positions." Sahakian does not rule out the possibility of the Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir parties asking Kocharian to "ditch" the Republicans in the event of his reelection. "But I don't think that jealousy could give birth to vengeance and hostility," he says.
Interviewed by "Hayots Ashkhar," Gurgen Yeghiazarian, a former deputy minister of national security, says there can be no comparison between the seizure of the Moscow theater and the October 1999 attack on the Armenian parliament. He says 60 or so Armenian deputies and government members held hostage by gunmen had far more freedom than hundreds of Moscow captives. "The parliament auditorium was turned into a corridor. Everyone could enter and leave it," Yeghiazarian says. The former official also believes that many terrorists and potential hostage-takers draw inspiration from Hollywood action movies.
"Orran" quotes foreign ministry spokeswoman Dziunik Aghajanian as refuting reports that the Russian government has closed the Nagorno-Karabakh representation in Moscow. Russia's ambassador to Azerbaijan, Nikolay Ryabov, was the source of those reports.