“There are no oligarchs in Armenia,” the deputy parliament speaker, Tigran Torosian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “There are only those who steal money here and there.”
“There are two types of rulers [in Armenia]: contrived and frank,” editorializes “Aravot.” “The former look you in the eyes and say that Kocharian was elected, that participants of demonstrations are arrested for violating constitutional order and so on. But of course there are also frank people in the governing circles who have the courage to say, off the record, ‘Yes we did stuff [ballots], we do restrict freedoms, we do close media outlets because there is no other way of developing the economy and carrying out economic reforms. This is a serious argument and could be an object of debate.” The paper says the authorities should openly elaborate on their belief that “Armenian mentality” is not compatible with Western liberal democracy. “Let them explain to our society that it has not matured for democracy and that the only way of raising the people’s living standards is an authoritarian regime,” it concludes.
Political analyst Suren Zolian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the authorities can ease post-election political tensions by taking “serious and visible steps aimed at positive changes.” “I think they should not wait until the parliamentary elections in order to take certain steps,” he says. “In the event of a continued wait-and-see posture one should not be surprised to see the pro-government forces lose votes. One should try to bring about radical changes.”
“Yerkir” comments that the overwhelming majority of deputies of the outgoing Armenian parliament do not care about possible consequences of Armenia’s failure to fulfill its commitments to the Council of Europe. For it is the next parliament, not they, that will bear responsibility for those consequences. The current lawmakers are primarily concerned with their own short-term political gains.
Gagik Aslanian, the second vice-speaker of the parliament, admits in an “Orran” interview that the recently formed Artarutyun alliance led by Stepan Demirchian is a formidable force that can make a strong showing in next month’s elections. Aslanian, who supports President Robert Kocharian, urges the rival political camps to step back from the collision course and “start acting in the people’s interests.” He warns that the bitter political stand-off threatens to split the society and is therefore “dangerous.”