(Saturday, April 17)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the number of people at Friday’s demonstration in Yerevan beat even the most optimistic opposition expectations. The paper says organizers did not expect the first protest after Tuesday’s government crackdown, head in heavy rain, to be “so big.” “Yesterday’s rally was largely aimed at talking about the bloody events of April 13 and raising the people’s spirits.”
“The situation in Armenia has changed since the events of April 13,” writes “Aravot.” “Those citizens who either don’t care about politics or hate Geghamian, Demirchian, Sarkisian and their closest supporters alike have felt offended by the extent of cynicism with which the authorities dispersed peaceful demonstrators, beat up journalists, subjected opposition representatives to violence and arrests etc.” Even “the most apolitical” people are outraged by official justifications for the crackdown.
“The government has fallen into a euphoria of impunity, and the reason for that is public indifference,” “Aravot” continues. “Nonetheless, there have been positive changes in recent days.” The paper points to the decision by Silva Kaputikian, a renowned Armenian poet, to return a state award to President Robert Kocharian in protest against his handling of the opposition protests.
“There can be no compromise between the government and the opposition if the latter needs nothing except power,” writes “Golos Armenii.” “Time and again the opposition will refuse negotiations, hoping to provoke the government with several more gatherings and actions into taking steps that will help to save its face. And only after those attempts fail will it speak about mutual compromise. But will it be legal and moral to give such an opportunity to the revolutionary opposition?” Government calls for dialogue are therefore a “waste of time,” the Russian-language paper says.
“We believe that the authorities are now unable to ensure the country’s domestic stability,” former Prime Minister Armen Darpinian tells “Hayots Ashkhar,” singling out the ruling three-party coalition and the current parliament. “Since the parliaments lacks the courage to dissolve itself, we are urging the president of the country to personally initiate the process of the National Assembly’s dissolution and take on the role of a guarantor of the cleanliness of the fresh parliamentary elections.” Darpinian is also critical of the Armenian opposition, saying that it would find itself on the political sidelines in the event of a “healthy political competition.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” comments that both the United States and Russia have adopted a “balanced” and “impartial” position on the recent developments in Armenia. “At the heart of that is the fact that the superpowers and their corresponding services are clearly informed about the real correlation of forces in Armenia which does not give them reason to think about the likelihood of regime change in our country in the near future.” Faced with this lack of international support, the Armenian opposition will try to further escalate the crisis, the paper concludes.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” describes the reported suicide of one of the five jailed parliament attackers, Vram Galstian, as a “long anticipated event.” “Everyone knew that this will happen, but very few knew when,” the paper says.
Both “Haykakan Zhamanak” and “Aravot” question the official theory that Galstian was deranged and had previously tried to kill himself. In a story titled “An expected suicide” “Aravot” hints, “During a closed [court] hearing on March 20, 2002 Vram Galstian provided important information according to which Edik Grigorian (another gunman) gave him a weapon and told him to take it to the [parliament] hall, saying that some deputies are waiting for them in the National Assembly auditorium. Since then his life has hung in the balance which was disrupted yesterday.”