(Saturday, February 28)
Deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the murder of Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian demonstrated that the international community should not treat Armenia and Azerbaijan equally. “These artificial, unbalanced steps buoy Azerbaijan,” he says. “They are increasingly becoming more bellicose and Armenophobic in front of everybody’s eyes. The savage murder once again showed that we are dealing with a state and people that have a totally different mentality and espouse absolutely alien values.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” berates the Armenian opposition for not joining Saturday’s commemoration of the 16 anniversary of Armenian pogroms in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait and holding instead an anti-government rally in Yerevan. The pro-government daily accuses the opposition of playing into Azerbaijan’s hands.
“We want to prove that arrests of individuals can not stem the tide of popular fury and that it is impossible to win legitimacy with illegal repressions,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian tells “Aravot.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” publishes a list of 167 persons who it says are considered to be posing the greatest danger to the ruling regime. The paper claims to have obtained the list from unidentified police sources. It says police structures around the country are now busy “putting together dossiers on these individuals” and their relatives.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian has ordered an inquiry into opposition leader Artashes Geghamian’s allegations that his phones are illegally wiretapped by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. The inquiry was launched at the request of Sarkisian.
Geghamian, meanwhile, claims in “Aravot” that a company that has carried out the alleged wiretap is run by the former head of a Nagorno-Karabakh security agency, Ashot Khachatrian.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” derides Friday’s student rally in Yerevan, noting that the students seemed to really enjoy the exercise. “The same point was made through loudspeakers by dozens of students for more than an hour,” the paper says. “Of course, it is good that our students have displayed strong organizational skills and sufficient audacity to express their wish not to go to the army. Whether their arguments are convincing is a different question.”
“Aravot” says the fact that the government recalled its bill on military service under opposition pressure does not mean that it now listens to citizens’ opinion and the students’ victory might become a Pyrrhic one. The paper speculates that the bill may have been just a smokescreen for enacting a more radical law that will enable the military to draft all male students at the age of 18. “Let us wait for the revised version of the bill and we will see then that it will be passed even if nobody except its authors likes it, as is the case now with many other laws.”