“Hayots Ashkhar” says the arrest of the deputy commander of Armenian border troops, Vahan Mkhitarian, is a sign that the law-enforcement agencies are starting to fight corruption in earnest. The paper says the criminal proceedings against Mkhitarian may hold in check many other high-level corrupt officials. “The latter will no doubt have to be careful and at least restrict their appetites in order to avoid Colonel Mkhitarian’s fate,” it says. “The fight against corruption…is therefore not an intractable issue.”
“Aravot” says in an editorial that there is fertile ground for lawlessness in Armenia as evidenced by what the paper sees as a failure to solve the 1999 parliament murders. There has been a widespread belief among ordinary Armenians that the assassination of one or two senior officials would resolve many economic problems. “Such a public atmosphere and prerequisites for terror still persist. That is why we pay attention to growing activities by various marginalized nationalist groups.”
“When relatively educated and cosmopolitan people look at what we today call a parliament, they get a natural desire to suggest an alternative because any alternative will not be worse than what we have,” writes “Golos Armenii.” “When people see that law-enforcement bodies are unable to prevent them from becoming victims of mafia-style street shootouts there arises the idea of self-defense through the creation of volunteer militias. In a word, alternatives are born as a reaction to reality.” The Russian-language paper too is worried about the recent creation of an alliance of hardline nationalist organizations, describing it as proof of the state’s weakness.
“Aravot” disapproves of the calls by the presidential commission on human rights for a government crackdown on “subversive cults.” “If there is someone who is supposed to deal with such issues, it is not the commission on civil rights and freedoms which is on the contrary supposed to scrutinize the state’s possible punitive steps against sects and to make sure that there is no violation of the freedom of conscience,” the paper says. It is the Armenian Apostolic Church that should counter the spread of “dangerous religious teachings.” “Aravot” believes that the commission in question has never protected human rights and must be disbanded. “Its name does not correspond to its activities,” the paper concludes.
But according to “Hayots Ashkhar,” the non-traditional religious groups have grown so active in Armenia that they now represent a “serious threat to national security.” The paper says they must be openly “persecuted” by the Armenian authorities. But the ultimate solution is to develop and present to the public an alternative to “the false set of values” espoused by the foreign sects.