“Hayots Ashkhar” says tough questions asked to President Robert Kocharian on Wednesday by students at Yerevan State University had been “prepared” by the opposition. The paper says Kocharian gave convincing answers to them.
But “Azg” is glad that the audience was not dominated “palace students” handpicked by university authorities. This kind of pluralism is good for creating “a climate of trust” and building consensus on pressing issues facing Armenia, the paper says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes that some of Kocharian’s answers to questions with “opposition connotations” drew cheers from the students. But in a story headlined “Students forgave Kocharian,” the paper claims that the latter applauded the persons who asked them, not Kocharian. “Generally speaking, Kocharian’s yet another meeting with the students was markedly different from the previous ones. It saw audacious questions that were not quite palatable for Kocharian.” The president was “clearly not prepared” for such a turn of events and spoke at times in a “rude and nervous” manner.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also points to Kocharian’s response to opposition criticism of his sporting lifestyle periodically showcased by pro-presidential TV channels. In an apparent jab at his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian, Kocharian said that doing physical exercises is better than “reading books or playing chess.” “Indeed, the times of book readers are gone,” the paper comments with irony.
Interviewed by “Aravot,” opposition leader Victor Dallakian scoffs at Kocharian’s argument that a political crisis is impossible in a country that registered an almost 14 percent growth. Most Armenians remain mired in poverty, Dallakian says.
“Hayots Ashkhar,” meanwhile, continues its strongly worded attacks on the opposition, likening its leaders to “chimpanzees that are impossible to tame.” “If these guys are not treated on time, then the devil knows what all of this will lead to,” editorializes the paper.
Human rights ombudsman Larisa Alaverdian tells “Aravot” that she supports the scrapping of Armenia’s Soviet-era Code of Administrative Offense which allows the authorities to jail people for up to 15 days on dubious charges. She says the legislation must be brought into conformity with appropriate European conventions signed by Armenia.