According to “Iravunk,” the major foreign powers have not taken sides in the confrontation between President Robert Kocharian and the Armenian opposition that has come to a temporary standstill. As for the proposed dialogue between the pro-establishment and opposition forces, it is not possible because “it is not clear at this point whether Kocharian will quit or stay on.” The paper predicts that the “war of nerves” between the two sides will again escalate.
“This is not Georgia, there are quite a few serious people here,” writes “Golos Armenii.” “No one prays here for Kocharian and he is cursed by many families. But the majority of those families are quietly terrified by the prospect of the president’s departure.” The paper also endorses police actions during the dispersal of the April 13 opposition demonstration.
Interviewed by “Iravunk,” Republican Party leader Galust Sahakian speaks out against the ongoing criminal proceedings launched against the opposition. The tensions in Armenia should be overcome through “dialogue,” not criminal prosecutions, he says. Sahakian calls in particular for the release of former Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian and several other senior members of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party. He also says that he is “very proud” of his persisting personal relationship with the family of the late Vazgen Sarkisian, including his brother Aram. “I again met with Aram Sarkisian three days ago,” Sahakian reveals. “The state and personal relationships or individuals are different things.”
Another Republican leader, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that he does not think Kocharian will fire the current government and dissolve the parliament in order to ease the tensions. Markarian argues that such a move would not placate the opposition. The premier goes on to warn that if Kocharian makes political decisions at the expense of “the Republican Party’s interests” he will join the opposition. “Naturally we would not cite the president’s illegitimacy but would substantiate our steps in an appropriate way, take certain actions within the framework of the constitution. It is with this same logic that I rule out a dissolution of the National Assembly because that would be the second step laying the groundwork for the president’s resignation,” Markarian says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” agrees that fresh parliamentary elections, demanded by some pro-Kocharian groups not represented in the current legislature, would be “meaningless.” The paper argues that the composition of a new National Assembly would not considerably different.
“Aravot” finds very symbolic Kocharian’s opposition to any Georgian-style crackdowns on corruption. The paper says the World Bank-funded anti-corruption plan mentioned by Kocharian is just a piece of paper that does not seem to entail any concrete action. “The authorities, even Dashnaktsutyun, do not speak about it lately. They probably continue to assess ‘corruption risks’ in various areas,” the paper notes bitingly. “Still, it is worth asking [the chief of the Armenian ex-KGB] Karlos Petrosian or [the customs department boss] Armen Avetisian how come they built their villas.”
“The Georgians have thoroughly disrupted the quiet life of our rulers,” “Aravot” continues. “First they did a revolution and now [President Mikhail] Saakashvili is going out of his way to wage a struggle which definitely strikes a chord with the majority of our population. Our people, however, are only left to watch how our ministers and community prefects build up fortunes, what kind of mansions and country houses they build and what kind of expensive cars they and their cronies drive.”