“Ayb-Fe” quotes Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian as warning that opposition attempts to “illegally” change government in Armenia will meet with a tough government response. He rages at the opposition for its alleged threats to “kill” and “smash” those who oppose regime change. “Time will tell who kills whom,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports sweeping staff changes in the Armenian police, saying that the authorities want to ensure the loyalty of the law-enforcement agencies in advance of the opposition’s spring offensive. “It is evident that the people are furious, and even Robert Kocharian is afraid of a furious people,” the paper says. It says interior troops alone would be insufficient to quash an opposition revolt, while old police cadres may not use force against demonstrators. The paper claims that the regime is planning mass repressions against its opponents. “The replacement of [Prosecutor-General] Aram Tamazian by Aghvan Hovsepian has to do with that as well.”
“A fairly strong military force, which is meant for suppressing mass unrest, has already been concentrated in the capital,” says “Iravunk.” The paper shares the view that Kocharian “wants to have an absolutely loyal elite that has serious reason to fight against regime change to the end.” “The atmosphere in Armenia is increasingly escalating, and any developments, including surprise ones, are possible in the coming weeks.” But that support base is “quite limited” as it mainly includes the Dashnaktsutyun party and a part of the security apparatus.
“The more they try to keep the situation under control, the stronger will the struggle of our people become,” a senior oppositionist and former defense minister, Vagharshak Harutiunian, tells “Iravunk.” “They will try to pressurize opposition activists in order to overcome the crisis, and that will have a boomerang effect.” Harutiunian claims that security officials are “tired of being instruments of political persecution.”
A politician close to Armenian security agencies, Garnik Isagulian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the ruling three-party coalition has failed to counter opposition actions with an “adequate response.” “It is no accident that the opposition emphasizes its intolerance of two concrete individuals, Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian, making it clear to the rest of the ruling elite that in case of staying away [from political battles] they will not suffer and will even gain something if they switch sides.” Isagulian says Kocharian should embark on sweeping staff changes that would install his staunch loyalists in key government positions.
“Yerkir” lambastes the Armenian government’s reaction to British Ambassador Thorda Abbott-Watt’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. “Who will be the next high-ranking foreigner who casts doubt on the fact of the genocide and does not respect us, despite living in this country?” it asks.