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Press Review


“If we manage to rein in the situation, the country will come out well of this situation,” “Aravot” quotes President Robert Kocharian as telling a group of intellectuals last week. “How the authorities rein in the situation was shown by violence used against journalists and demonstrators at Artashes Geghamian’s meeting with voters yesterday,” the paper comments. It says the rampaging youths that attacked journalists were bodyguards of several prominent tycoons close to Kocharian.

“Haykakan Zhamanak,” citing the web site of the closed A1+ television station, says they work for businessman Gagik Tsarukian. Another online publication, www.taregir.am, said bodyguards of another tycoon, Samvel Aleksanian also took part in the attack. The paper adds that among those who stirred up trouble were also undercover police officers. The whole thing was organized and coordinated by the chief of the criminal investigations department of the Yerevan police, Karen Babakekhian.

“Haykakan Zhamanak,” whose photographer lost his camera in the attack, also emphasizes the fact that none of the police officers present at the Geghamian rally tried to stop the thugs. When asked by a journalist on the scene why the law-enforcement officials are not intervening, a police major said: “We have no such order.”

“It is evident who will be using violence during and after the joint opposition rally to be held on April 9 -- bodyguards who ostensibly have no connection with the authorities but are in fact directly guided by high-ranking officers of the security bodies,” writes “Iravunk.” The paper suggests that they will be joined by “criminal elements” armed with knives and metal bars. “At any rate, the outcome of the battles is still not predictable. If the opposition suffers defeat then the most likely development will be the removal of the government and the parliament and a long wave of haggling and intrigues aimed at dividing parliamentary percentage points and ministerial portfolios.”

“Aravot” editorializes that both the present and former Armenian authorities have used an imaginary threat of a renewed war with Azerbaijan to argue against regime change. “Of course the danger of war is there, but it has nothing to do with rallies held in Armenia,” the paper says. It says the root cause of the present instability is that “Robert Kocharian failed to get reelected in 2003.” That said, “Aravot” believes that the opposition will likely fail to overthrow the ruling regime.

“Azg” describes as a “sloppy” public relations stunt a weekend trip by a group of television journalists to the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline that was organized by the Armenian military. Interviewed by those journalists, the Karabakh army commanders slammed the Armenian opposition’s push for power. One of them, General Vitaly Balasanian, warned that the Karabakh army will not recognize any government in Yerevan formed as a result of Kocharian’s forced resignation. “The style of the television reports suggests that the action pursued purely domestic political goals. Was it really necessary to draw the army into the political struggle?” The paper finds Balasanian’s remarks “extremely dangerous.”

(Vache Sarkisian)
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