“Populism has eaten the coalition,” reads a headline to an “Aravot” commentary on the weekend congress of Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir Party. “Baghdasarian made evaluations that were not uttered even by opposition leaders,” the paper says of the parliament speaker’s harsh criticism of the Armenian government. It says some leaders of the Republican Party similarly sounded like oppositionists in their comments on the recent local election in Yerevan’s Ajapnyak district. The Republicans now fear that their leader, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, might soon be sacked by President Robert Kocharian.
“Iravunk” says that if Markarian is really ousted from his post the Republicans may well decide to cooperate with the anti-Kocharian opposition in parliament. “Both the country’s public and political thought are convinced that the Ajapnyak elections saw a clash between Robert Kocharian and Andranik Markarian,” the paper says. It quotes the Republican Party’s parliamentary leader, Galust Sahakian, as renewing his allegations about voter intimidation and falsifications in Ajapnyak. He claims that police not only failed to counter bands of armed men but also helped them bully local voters and attack his son Arman Sahakian’s supporters. He says Ajapnyak has become a “lair of corruption” and calls on the authorities to take urgent action.
“Ayb-Fe” sees an “emergency situation” in Armenia. “Both the opposition and authorities are astonished by the inclusion of the issue of amendments to the law on referendum on the National Assembly’s greater agenda,” the paper explains. It says the surprise development happened not because of the opposition’s strength. It was simply the result of “a lack of understanding” among many pro-Kocharian parliamentarians or a “treachery” by some Republicans. The presidential camp is seriously worried that the opposition and a part of the HHK may eventually join forces against Robert Kocharian.
“Azg” complains that populism has penetrated every government structure in Armenia and cites the example of the Yerevan municipality widely blamed for the shrinkage of the city’s green areas and the chaotic system of public transportation. The paper says things have not improved under the current mayor, Yervand Zakharian, who was appointed this summer.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that the hospitalization of Yerevan residents affected by a disease outbreak resulting from the recent contamination of drinking water continues unabated. All of them are reported to be suffering from dysentery. “But specialists find an outbreak of hepatitis very likely,” the paper writes alarmingly. It is also worried that Yerevan’s water utility may “avoid responsibility” for the breakdown.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” and “Aravot” report that the family of Martin Hovannisian, a former parliamentarian and businessman blamed for last year’s collapse of the Kredit-Yerevan bank, is being harassed by the authorities over his absence from the country. The papers say police have illegally confiscated the passports of Hovannisian’s wife and sister.