“Golos Armenii” continues to attack RFE/RL’s Armenian broadcasting service. The Russian-language paper which supports President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian cites yet another angry letter from one its readers. A pensioner identified as Arkady Marutian blasts the broadcaster for its “shameless” coverage of the presidential elections which he says badly affected his food appetite.
To drive home its point, “Golos Armenii” also runs an article by Eduard Hovannisian, a prominent member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and a former director of the RFE/RL Armenian Service. Hovannisian claims that he was forced to work for the U.S.-funded radio by the CIA in the 1970s and 1980s. “The existence of Radio Liberty was justified in the past, but is not now because the situation is radically different,” he says, arguing that information broadcast by RFE/RL can be accessed by Armenians from other news sources.
“Aravot” sees nothing strange in the continuing stream of verbal attacks on RFE/RL by the pro-government media. “The veterans [writing angry letters] were brought up in the spirit of an era when the Soviet regime jammed ‘enemy voices’ so that nobody, God forbid, succumbs to Western imperialist propaganda and gets disappointed with the wise policy of the Communist Party.” The paper is more worried that such attitudes are shared by Hovannes Asrian, chairman of a presidential commission which is supposed to protect human rights. “This is very symbolic. This shows that despite the ten-year history of democracy little separates us from the days when listening to Radio Liberty or Voice of America programs was considered a grave crime against your own country.” RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, according to “Aravot,” is the only broadcaster which informs Armenians of vote irregularities and mass arrests of opposition supporters.
Henrik Igitian, the director of the Yerevan Museum of Modern Art who has recently visited California, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that he was taken aback by the depth of anti-Kocharian sentiment among local Armenians. “I haven’t felt as much aggressiveness in Armenia as I noticed there,” he says, apparently referring to demonstrations in support of Stepan Demirchian reported from Los Angeles. “What was the point of making all the fuss when there are only about 3,000 voters there?” Igitian, who strongly backs Kocharian, says there should not have been so much antagonism towards the current Armenian authorities in Los Angeles area because local Armenians live much better than the residents of Armenia. “Why have they become so hostile?” he asks.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” writes that “rivalry” between Dashnaktsutyun and the Republican Party (HHK) is “the main driving force of internal political developments” in Armenia. The paper says the two pro-Kocharian parties are gearing up for a “decisive battle.” This could result in a “destruction of petty pro-government parties.”