“The [Armenian] capital increasingly resembles Chicago of the 1930s,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar,” commenting on the latest high-profile murders in Armenia. At least two people were killed in a shootout reported on Wednesday. The paper sees it as part of a “war of mafias.” One of the victims is a nephew of Ruben Gevorgian, a former parliament deputy and flamboyant member of the Yerkrapah Union. At least three other men, including the victim’s brother, were reportedly wounded.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says all of them were ambushed by unknown gunmen on the southern outskirts of Yerevan on Tuesday. Law-enforcement bodies refuse to comment on possible motives of the crime. The city, meanwhile, is awash with rumors that that the gunshots were the latest manifestation of an apparent feud between Gevorgian (nicknamed “Tsaghik Rubo”) and Samvel Aleksanian, a businessman who is better known to Armenians with his “Lfik Samo” nickname. The paper recalls that a group of young men, among them another nephew of Gevorgian, had come under fire near Gevorgian’s plush Yerevan villa last November. The attack left two of them dead. It says city prosecutors established the identity of the attackers shortly afterwards but “failed to arrest them.” The suspects have since been on the run. One of them is a relative of Aleksanian. It was the fourth such incident registered this month. Two of them occurred in broad daylight. “How long will this continue?” asks “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak,” citing unnamed informed sources, likewise says that the killings were “the continuation of last year’s incident that occurred between supporters of Ruben Gevorgian and Samvel Aleksanian.” “The law-enforcement authorities took no serious steps at the time and must now share full responsibility for what happened,” the paper comments. For “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the shootings are yet another proof that there is no law and order in Armenia. “In this country it is Robert Kocharian who decides who should not be punished for what he did and who should be punished for what he did not do,” it thunders. “As a result, we have a situation in which participants of a peaceful rally end up in jail, while murderers remain at large because they have things to be done: to falsify elections for Kocharian.”
“The society is so disappointed that it has lost even a desire to fight,” opposition leader Vazgen Manukian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Most people, he says, would either “step aside or leave” the country. “The cause of that is the absence of democracy. That is, the absence of a people who plays the role of a judge in politics.” Manukian believes that the authorities’ calls for a dialogue with the opposition are just a gimmick. As for the ruling coalition, the pro-Kocharian three parties composing share more common interests than differences, according to him.
“Aravot” editorializes that the Armenian authorities should blame only themselves for the embarrassment they suffered this week at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The PACE had already warned them following the troubled presidential elections. But they did not take the warning seriously and are now facing the possibility of humiliating sanctions.