“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Lithuania’s President Rolandas Paksas, who was impeached by parliament on Tuesday, should serve as an example for President Robert Kocharian. The paper says Paksas did not brand the impeachment proceedings as an attempt to undermine the country’s stability. The row over Paksas’ alleged ties with the underworld has gone on for months, and yet Lithuania continued to develop economically and even joined NATO. “That is so because Lithuanian political stability is not based on one or several individuals. It is based on a democratic political system, a system whose essence is summed up by one phrase: a possibility to effect regime change without violence.”
“You just can’t win elections with blatant violations of the law, repressions and threats, and call on everyone to stay within the framework of the constitution after taking over the presidency,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” continues. “Having rejected the opposition demand for a referendum of confidence, Robert Kocharian should at least come up with his own variant of overcoming the existing crisis which would not amount to ‘The opposition is bad, while I am good’.” Kocharian, for example, could call fresh parliamentary elections for this June and guarantee that they will be free and fair.
“Aravot” blasts Yerevan police chief Nerses Nazarian for his “extremely hypocritical” claim that Monday’s beating of photojournalists by pro-government thugs was part of an inevitable dispute between “individuals with opposite views.” The paper says one of the thugs who knocked its correspondent Anna Israelian to the ground did not dispute with anyone. He just “beat a woman” and destroyed her camera. “The picture of that criminal was printed in our newspaper [on Tuesday]. Find him and try him instead of telling fairy tales about ‘opposite views’.” “Aravot” adds that if Kocharian wants to dispel suspicion about his involvement in the violence he must first of all have the thugs arrested and punished.
But the pro-Kocharian “Hayots Ashkhar” effectively defends the beating, saying that the victims were pro-opposition journalists and it is therefore “inappropriate to use the word violence.” “They describe what happened to them in such a sorrowful and indignant manner, tell such harrowing stories of who was jostled by whom, whose video and still cameras were smashed, who was allowed and who was not allowed to collect the device debris that one is only left to shudder,” the paper mocks the journalists. “Representatives of the so-called pro-government media hear such threats and attack on a daily basis.”
In a separate commentary, “Hayots Ashkhar” says there is no room for agreement between the government and “the radicals” (i.e., opposition). Even those state officials who call for dialogue with the opposition are aware of this, it says. “We believe that all the words have been said and everybody must now do their job.”
“Azg” writes alarmingly that the political standoff is splitting Armenian society. “In effect, there is an atmosphere of absolute political intolerance in which one can only dream about a dialogue between the government and the opposition,” the paper says.
“A regime that takes or keeps power by relying on thugs becomes their hostage,” opposition leader Vazgen Manukian tells “Aravot.” “And we, the entire people in turn become its hostages.”