“Aravot” comments that the Constitutional Court “lacked the insolence to declare, without reservations, that Kocharian was elected, but on the other hand, failed to display the civic courage to assert that he was not elected president.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” attacks court chairman Gagik Harutiunian over the conciliatory tone of his Friday remarks. Harutiunian, the paper says, sought to “mitigate Robert Kocharian’s wrath” with his ruling. It predicts that the authorities will not confine themselves to lambasting Harutiunian.
“Ayb-Fe” claims that Harutiunian looked “frightened” during his news conference when he assured the regime that the court does not challenge the legitimacy of Kocharian’s electoral victory.
Newspapers supporting Kocharian sound unconvinced by those assurances. “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” says they failed to bring any clarity into the situation. The paper argues that by insisting on a “referendum of confidence” Harutiunian and the eight other Constitutional Court judges are casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election results. The judges, the government-controlled daily concludes, are “discrediting an important state institution.”
“Yerkir” says Harutiunian’s news conference only raised more questions about its controversial election verdict. “If that decision was aimed at beginning a political game, then the court is doing something to which it is not entitled. If the decision is the result of professional incompetence, then how can such a Constitutional Court perform its functions? If the decision is the result of a hesitant behavior, how can we expect justice from people with such characteristics? In any case, the Constitutional Court seems to have made itself illegitimate with its decision.”
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” the court’s actions are a “disgrace for the country.” The paper describes Harutiunian as a man without principles who is only concerned with his own self-interest. It goes on to implicitly accuse the chief justice of obstructing the long-running investigation into a criminal case involving his son-in-law.
“During his news conference Gagik Harutiunian never gave answers to questions raised by,” Prime Minister Andranik Markarian tells “Aravot.” “The Constitutional Court should have answered the questions rather than expressed its conclusions and reflections.” Markarian also claims that none of the opposition candidates nominated in 56 single-mandate constituencies stands a chance of getting elected to the new parliament. Therefore, he says, the opposition can only compete for the 75 seats contested under the system of proportional representation.
In an interview with “Ayb-Fe,” Ararat Zurabian, the leader of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), forecasts that Armenia will hold a pre-term presidential election next year. He says former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, revered by the HHSh, will contest the vote.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments on a recent wave of articles in the pro-Kocharian press that called for an end to the ongoing retransmission by Armenian state radio of daily programs of the RFE/RL Armenian Service. The paper says the “hysteria” exposed the Armenian authorities’ desire to restrict RFE/RL broadcasts to Armenia. It says RFE/RL is the only Armenian-language electronic medium which is not controlled by the authorities in Yerevan and therefore does not fit into Kocharian’s vision of an “organized state.” “Haykakan Zhamanak” speculates that a decision to end the RFE/RL retransmission on state radio’s frequencies would play badly with the U.S. government.