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Press Review


In an interview with “Ayb-Fe,” the deputy chief of the Armenian police, General Hovannes Varian, blames the opposition for violence that occurred during Wednesday’s anti-government demonstration in Yerevan. Varian says it was police officers who were the main victims of the scuffle. He says they have a legal right to disperse crowds by force. “It’s very easy to be in opposition. Look at what they blurt out about the state. They bear no responsibility and enjoy everyone’s respect,” he says of the opposition leaders.

“Aravot” quotes one of those leaders, Albert Bazeyan, as saying that if the authorities are unhappy with the ongoing street protests they must deal with their organizers, not ordinary participants.

Political scientist Suren Zolian makes the same point in a “Hayots Ashkhar” interview. “Those administrative arrests and fines solve no issues except causing discontent. The radical oppositionists benefit a lot from such a government reaction,” Zolian says, adding that arrests of opposition supporters only “deepen the split inside the society” and increase political tensions.

“Hayots Ashkhar” editorializes that the rallies held during Kocharian’s inauguration testified to the “utter failure of the radical opposition.” The paper says not only did the opposition led by Stepan Demirchian burn all bridges of possible dialogue with the authorities but also damaged its ability to make a strong showing in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

“Yerkir” says the number of people attending opposition rallies is steadily declining and the opposition leaders are now shifting their focus to the parliament in the hope scoring more political points there.

“Iravunk” comments that the authorities’ heavy-handed tactics of tackling the opposition challenges reflects their strong “irrational fear.” “This irrational behavior suggests that Robert Kocharian’s regime has in fact committed more sins than are known to the public. This means his position is much more shaky than all of us could imagine.” The paper goes on to predict deepening differences among pro-Kocharian forces, notably the Republican and Dashnaktsutyun parties.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that leaders of the main pro-Kocharian parties are due to meet on Saturday in “yet another attempt to stave off inner-government clashes in the upcoming elections of the National Assembly.” “Observers, however, believe that it will further deepen the existing disagreements between the pro-government forces,” the paper says.

“Aravot” accuses the Armenian authorities of constantly seeking to “cheat” the Council of Europe and persuade the Europeans that Armenia is a democratic country with free and fair elections. The important thing, according to the paper, is that if the country is sanctioned by the Council of Europe its rulers will in no way suffer from that. “On the contrary, they will get rid of the most stringent of [international] inspectors, obey only the Moscow Central Committee and easily establish a dictatorship or a hard-line authoritarian regime.”

But as “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” observes, the fact that Kocharian wore similarly styled blue neckties during the 2003 and 1998 inauguration ceremonies points to his “stable” taste. That, the government-funded daily says, in turn proves that he “simply can not fail to be consistent and determined in making good on his promise given to the people.”

(Vache Sarkisian)
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