“As always, the Constitutional Court is in the president’s pocket,” “Aravot” comments on Monday’s court ruling rejecting Artashes Geghamian’s appeal against the official results of the February 19 first round of the presidential election. The paper has no doubts that the same fate awaits Stepan Demirchian’s election suit.
“Aravot” and other pro-opposition papers are also up in arms against a government bill on mass media which is due to be debated by the parliament next month. “Haykakan Zhamanak” sees a government “conspiracy” against press freedom in Armenia.
“Orran” expresses alarm at the continuing arrests of opposition activists. “Democratic consciousness is being persecuted in Armenia,” the paper claims.
But as “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun writes, the Armenian opposition’s ideas of democracy are “peculiar.” The government paper criticizes opposition parties for not holding rallies outside Western embassies in Yerevan against the ongoing U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq. It claims that “thousands of people” in the United States and other Western countries have been arrested for holding such protests.
“Iravunk” alleges that the authorities are bent on “establishing a dictatorship in Armenia within a short period of time.” The paper says that after facing so much international criticism of their handling of the presidential elections the authorities will not hesitate to defy the Council of Europe and other international organizations on other issues, such as constitutional reform. Robert Kocharian may well decide to once again postpone his constitutional referendum because, the paper claims, he can not win popular support for his proposed amendments without again resorting to vote rigging.
“Ayb-Fe” anticipates that there will be little rivalry among the myriad of pro-Kocharian parties contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections. “One should not forget that activities of those parties are directed from the same center which, at least until now, has fulfilled its tasks with great success. By creating a semblance of inner-government differences, the regime is keen to “lull the opposition’s vigilance,” according to the paper.
In an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Gegham Manukian, downplays the huge political clout enjoyed by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. Manukian indicates that as far as the parliamentary elections are concerned, Dashnaktsutyun’s goals and ambitions as just as big as those of the Republican Party on whose electoral ticket Sarkisian is running for the parliament. He also assures the paper that no member of Dashnaktsutyun was involved in the recent vote irregularities.
In an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar,” Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian promises a fair and open trial for Armen Sarkisian, the brother of opposition leader Aram Sarkisian accused of ordering the killing of state television chief Tigran Naghdalian. Tamazian dismisses allegations that the case is politically motivated. He is particularly angry at criticism voiced Victor Dallakian, the pro-opposition chairman of the parliament committee on legal affairs.