“Iravunk” observes that relations the Armenian authorities and the opposition are growing more and more “mutually intolerant.” The paper says the ruling regime is toughening its stance against its opponents and is preparing to falsify the upcoming parliamentary elections. “That is practically impossible without a drastic restriction of press freedom and tough measures against the opposition. It is possible that the law-enforcement authorities will step up pressure on the opposition soon.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that state prosecutors have launched criminal proceedings against a prominent oppositionist, Aramazd Zakarian. He is suspected of embezzling 2.5 million drams ($4,300) during his previous work at the Yerevan municipality when it was headed by Albert Bazeyan. The pro-government presents the accusations as a proven fact. It alleges that Bazeyan is also guilty of corruption.
“Aravot,” meanwhile, reports that another opposition figure, former Interior Minister Suren Abrahamian, is facing a inquiry by the notorious Sixth Directorate of the Armenian police which is tasked with fighting organized crime. The paper attributes that to Abrahamian’s scathing criticism of Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the chairman of the Central Election Commission, Artak Sahradian, compared Serzh Sarkisian to Al Capone, the infamous U.S. mafia boss, at a seminar on Saturday. Sahradian claimed that Capone worked as campaign manager of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. “Of course Sahradian meant to compare Franklin Roosevelt to Robert Kocharian, but ended up comparing Serzh Sarkisian to Al Capone. Significantly, Sahradian has demonstrated that he can not only falsify election results but also history.” Sahradian, the paper adds, sought to justify Sarkisian’s controversial appointment as Kocharian’s campaign manager.
“My relationship with Serzh Sarkisian is normal,” the chief of Kocharian’s staff, Artashes Tumanian, tells “Iravunk.” Tumanian, who is running for the parliament on the Dashnaktsutyun party’s ticket, admits that there is “some competition” between the main pro-Kocharian party. He his personal rapport with Sarkisian, who backs the Republican Party, is therefore “not brotherly.” Tumanian also calls for a “dialogue” with the opposition. “I think that a bitter confrontation and mutual hatred is dangerous for the state and the society,” he says.
“Azg” accuses the current parliamentary majority of sabotaging debate on important bills submitted by “it own government.”
“Aravot” speculates that either the parliament majority has fallen out with the government or Andranik Markarian’s cabinet is simply not interested in passage of the bills. The former theory is more likely, according to the paper. Most deputies do not want to vote for the new Criminal Code for fear of being accused of giving Nairi Hunanian and his henchmen “security guarantees.”