“Orran” reveals what it says are details of a closed debate among the nine members of the Armenian Constitutional Court that preceded its controversial ruling on the presidential election. The paper says some of the judges pushed for the annulment of the election results. The call for a “referendum of confidence” was the result of their efforts. The paper again describes the verdict as a “time bomb” planted under Robert Kocharian.
Interviewed by “Orran,” one of the nine justices, Rafael Papayan, defends the judgment against strong verbal attacks from the presidential camp. The referendum of confidence, he says, is a “legal way” of resolving the political crisis in Armenia. “The president of any country must be interested in maintaining the authority of government. Government is not a single person, but three branches. It is fair to say that the Constitutional Court is the branch which more or less enjoyed popular trust and was not discredited,” Papayan says, in a thinly veiled attack on Kocharian. “And it is quite weird that the authorities are trying to discredit the least discredited branch.” Papayan says the “smear campaign” will have negative consequences for Kocharian and other top government officials.
“Hayots Ashkhar,” meanwhile, lashes out at another court member, Felix Tokhian, for publicly criticizing Kocharian’s constitutional amendments. The pro-presidential paper says Tokhian’s actions amount to involvement in politics, which is illegal under Armenian law.
“Iravunk” says the Kocharian administration is “waging a real war” against the Constitutional Court, using not only its loyal media but also “various state structures.” “The existence of such a confrontation will probably lead to interesting consequences even after [the parliamentary elections of] May 25 because it will have a substantial impact on appeals to the Constitutional Court against election results in one or another district,” the paper explains.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also slams those Armenian journalists who gave a highly negative assessment of Armenia’s democratic credentials at a meeting with Lord Russell-Johnston of the Council of Europe on Thursday. It accuses them of tarnishing Armenia’s image.
“Aravot” wonders why the authorities portrayed U.S. President George W. Bush’s message as a letter of congratulation on Kocharian’s reelection. The paper says Bush essentially said what the Armenian opposition thinks of the recent presidential election. “Like Bush, the opposition too was disappointed with the handling of the elections and agreed with European observers’ assessment of the reported irregularities and falsifications,” it argues.