In their first issues of the new year Armenian newspapers unanimously condemn the assassination of state television chief Tigran Naghdalian.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” brands it a crime against “free speech, the society and the country.” The paper notes that most of the high-profile murders of recent years were committed at a time when the political situation in Armenia was beginning to stabilize. “We must at last know who is directing the shooting hands,” it says.
“Azg” also sees political motives behind the killing. “That crime was directed against the president of the republic. It was definitely a message to him because Naghdalian was not only one of the president’s closest associates but also one of the most ardent supporters of his policies and, therefore, reelection,” the paper says. It believes that Naghdalian’s murderers wanted to create an atmosphere of fear for all journalists.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says whoever thinks that Naghdalian’s murder was not politically motivated should be held responsible for the crime. The paper believes that it was the result of what it sees as opposition threats against the authorities voiced during the previous six months. “You wanted a war? You will get a war. We are prepared for it,” the “Hayots Ashkhar” editor, Gagik Mkrtchian, writes menacingly.
“Orran,” on the other hand, accuses the authorities of exploiting the murder for political aims. The paper condemns state television for broadcasting “accusations and threats” which it says had nothing to do with the shooting. “They just needed a pretext for saying all that. A pretext was found…And why didn’t anyone recall that Tigran Naghdalian was directly involved in many events that have been fateful for the country? They rendered him a dangerous carrier of secrets. At least for those who clearly had a role in the October 27 crime.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” similarly responds to state television’s warnings against attempts to link Naghdalian’s murder to the October 27 case. Nothing should be ruled out, it says. The more such theories are suggested and substantiated, the easier it will be to identify Naghdalian’s assassins. “There must be no taboo topics in Armenia. We will not allow that.”
“Aravot” comes up with four “equally plausible” hypotheses. One is that the murder was the work of the opposition which thereby wanted to weaken Kocharian ahead of the February 19 elections. The murder could also have been orchestrated by the ruling regime with the aim of launching a massive crackdown on the opposition. The third theory is that Naghdalian’s death had to do with the parliament attack investigation. And finally, there could be economic motives for the crime given the fact that state television has become a “thriving business” in recent years. The paper goes on to conclude: “The most unfortunate thing is that this crime too will not be solved. In the pre-election period the authorities and the opposition will save no effort to exploit the murder by blaming it on each other. The elections will take place and everybody will forget the crime.”