(Saturday, January 31)
“Aravot” says that the Armenian authorities have decided to kill the idea of a referendum of confidence in President Robert Kocharian without a debate, by catching the opposition off guard. The paper says the draft amendments to the Armenian law on referendum, put forward by the opposition, may be included on the agenda of Monday’s parliament sitting only to be rejected by its pro-presidential majority.
“The opposition wants to keep the entire society in tension and provoke instability in the country,” Rafik Petrosian, chairman of the parliament’s legal affairs committee, is quoted as saying. “And I, as the chairman of the committee, declare that this proposals is unconstitutional.”
“The authorities are convinced that their parliament will vote against considering the issue and they will thus easily bury it,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” But, the paper says, the opposition has already drawn up a plan of counterattack and there might be unexpected developments in the National Assembly on Monday. It cites opposition lawmaker Victor Dallakian as saying that the authorities’ failure to call the referendum by the April 2004 first anniversary of the Constitutional Court ruling that contained the idea would give the people a legitimate right to “take any measures at any time.”
“The more people think that Kocharian’s tenure will end in 2008, the greater the likelihood of him ruling by that time,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” says in a separate commentary. For those opposition leaders that are loathe to stage anti-government street protests this will be an additional argument in favor of staying inside their offices. The paper believes that Kocharian will name a successor who will “give himself and his family guarantees of security and immunity.” That successor will likely be chosen from his so-called “Karabakh clan,” it says. “This is perhaps the only structure that can give Kocharian absolute security guarantees.” As for the myriad of pro-Kocharian parties, they are “unstable in nature” and can not be relied upon.
Larisa Alaverdian, who is considered by “Haykakan Zhamanak” a member of that clan, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that she was chosen by Kocharian to become Armenia’s first human rights ombudsman because she has never been in government and has extensively dealt with the matter. “I was born in Baku and moved to Armenia with my family in 1968,” she says. “I have spent most of my life in Yerevan.” Alaverdian remembers being looked down on by locals who she says questioned her and her relatives’ Armenian credentials. “I have always attributed such expressions to those who are inherently mean and vicious.” The ombudsman designate also says that in her new position she will use and build upon the “valuable experience” of the presidential commission on human rights of which he was a member until now.