(Saturday, March 20)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that by ordering staff changes in the Armenian police and prosecutor’s office President Robert Kocharian intended to demonstrate that “those structures are under his full control.” It says Kocharian’s meeting with the police chiefs, publicized by his press service late on Friday, was part of the effort.
“Aravot” quotes Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian as warning the opposition against attempting to topple the authorities in an “unconstitutional” way. “The author of this statement is the man who was charged in 1995 with an attempt to organize a military coup, was later sentenced for calling for a coup and declared after being set free [in 1998], due to a change of the situation, that they were right to do that. It turns out that [Hovannisian and other Dashnaktsutyun members] were allowed to overthrow the regime by force but that in this case it is not admissible.”
Answering a reporter’s question about the change of the prosecutor-general, Kocharian said on Friday: “What you are thinking is also true.” “Haykakan Zhamanak” says what it thinks, repeating its view that Kocharian gave the job to Aghvan Hovsepian to ensure the prosecutors’ absolute loyalty in the event of an opposition onslaught on his power. The paper says Kocharian feared that the previous chief prosecutor, Aram Tamazian, would shy away from unleashing “repression” against opposition leaders and their supporters.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” puts on its front page the picture of a posh SUV car which it says belongs to the 24-year-old son of Urban Development Minister Ara Aramian who was involved in this month’s notorious gunfight in a café in central Yerevan. The paper says the jeep was impounded by police following the shooting which was heard by Kocharian and his visiting Georgian counterpart, Mikhail Saakashvili. “It is difficult to suggest that the 24-year-old ministerial heir acquired this car with hard work. He is more likely to have gotten it from his dad or one of dad’s friends as a present. This car once again makes us ponder what Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) is all about,” the paper snipes at the political party with which the older Aramian is affiliated.
“A [typical] Armenian official seems to be made of special dirt,” writes “Golos Armenii.” “This thief likes to speak about patriotic themes but is in fact the main problem of our statehood. Over the past decade officials have literally materialized the national idea, also misappropriating aid coming from abroad, from the Diaspora, including the aid allocated by the Lincy Foundation. It sometimes appears that if Turkey and Azerbaijan had not existed our officials would have invented them to avoid the blame for the existing situation.”
Samvel Nikoyan, a parliament deputy from the governing Republican Party, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the opposition pledges to launch a popular movement for regime change are just “propaganda tricks.” “If there were opportunities for real action they would not be announcing that every other day,” Nikoyan says. “They may manage to hold some rallies and win over a certain segment of the population. But I don’t think that will set the stage for regime change.”