“Haykakan Zhamanak” says President Robert Kocharian is again at the center of the marathon trial of the parliament attackers, with relatives of the late Vazgen Sarkisian and Karen Demirchian urging the defendants to testify against him, and prosecutors trying to fend off such accusations. “However, [Nairi] Hunanian’s behavior suggests that he does trust any of the parties at the moment and wants to continue the bargaining,” the paper says.
“Ayb-Fe” says the authorities sought on Tuesday to dismiss the opposition warnings to Hunanian that he will be killed in prison unless he tells the full truth about the shootings. That was done through Ruben Sahakian, the lawyer for Social Security Minister Aghvan Vartanian who was among dozens of officials taken hostage on October 27, 1999.
“Nairi Hunanian is [opposition leader] Aram Sarkisian’s last hope,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” The paper says Sarkisian’s lawyer Oleg Yunoshev made a last-ditch attempt on Tuesday to convince Hunanian to implicate Kocharian in his crime in return for a softer punishment.
Parliament vice-speaker Tigran Torosian assures “Ayb-Fe” that the issue of a referendum of confidence in Kocharian was placed on the National Assembly agenda by accident, not as a result of a secret deal between his Republican Party (HHK) and the opposition. Torosian says the fact that the parliament will discuss the issue is only a “consolation” for the opposition as the parliament majority will never agree to call the referendum.
Interviewed by “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the HHK’s parliamentary leader, Galust Sahakian, describes the weekend local election in Yerevan’s Ajapnyak district as an “unprecedented disgrace,” claiming that his son Arman was defeated as a result of vote rigging. He says the vote will have “serious political consequences.” But Sahakian speaks out against drawing parallels between the Ajapnyak race and this year’s presidential election, saying that the latter was much cleaner. He also hints that the HHK’s coalition partners, Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun, supported Arman Sahakian’s rival just because they don’t like him. “Some forces supported a fool out of their self-interest,” he says, referring to Ajapnyak’s reelected prefect Artsrun Khachatrian.
“Aravot” editorializes that the Armenian opposition is “naive” to think that it can force Kocharian into resignation before the next presidential election due in 2008. “They are also naive to think that Kocharian will appoint a successor in 2008. Kocharian is much more likely to declare himself president for another five years or for the rest of his life, like the Central Asian leaders do,” the paper says.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” quotes a senior member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Andreas Gross, as saying that Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia will face strong criticism at the next PACE session in January. Gross says all three regional states failed to meet European standards in conducting parliamentary and presidential elections this year.