(Saturday, April 3)
In an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar,” Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian condemns the Armenian opposition for its efforts to topple President Robert Kocharian. Ohanian claims that the opposition does not care about “external dangers and challenges” such as the threat of a renewed war with Azerbaijan in its bid to come to power.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also quotes the first deputy chief of the Armenian police, Ararat Mahtesian, as defending police actions at the troubled opposition rally in Gyumri. Regarding the upcoming opposition protests in Yerevan, Mahtesian says, “We are always ready to fight back morally and special physical means if there are violations of the law.” He claims that the opposition demonstrations might turn violent.
“Aravot” says between 200 and 300 “young men” have been transported to Armenia from Karabakh to “carry out any order from Serzh Sarkisian.” The paper also says that the authorities plan to disrupt the opposition demonstrations with firecrackers and stun grenades that can spread “panic” in any crowd. “Special squad fighters have already been distributed rubber bullets that are meant to be used in case of possible clashes at the rallies.”
In a separate editorial “Aravot” says the future of the Armenian state depends on “how far the authorities will go in reining in the opposition.” The paper believes that arrest of opposition leaders would prove costly and counterproductive for the authorities as it would only increase the likelihood of a “spontaneous revolution” in the country.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” describes as an “extraordinary” event a joint press conference of Artashes Geghamian and Stepan Demirchian scheduled for Monday. The two opposition heavyweights have had uneasy and at times tense relations for more than a year and a lot depends on how closely they will now cooperate. Geghamian tells the paper that they are both “conscious” of this reality.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” again warns of serious trouble, including “appropriate social consequences for the people,” which it thinks would await Armenia in event of regime change.
“The two sides, both the government and the opposition, must realize that at stake is the country’s security, economy, the Karabakh issue,” the leader of the People’s Deputy parliamentary group, Karen Karapetian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “If not everyone has been blinded by personal ambitions yet, both sides must be psychologically ready for dialogue and mutual concessions.” Developments so far “do not promise anything good,” he adds. “It is still not too late to rectify the situation.”