“Hayots Ashkhar” says Tuesday’s rally marked a “turning point” in the opposition campaign against President Robert Kocharian. The paper says it finally dashed opposition supporters’ hopes for regime change in Armenia. It also says that the attempts to start a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition were “doomed from the outset.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that police on Tuesday again put up roadblocks on all highways leading to Yerevan. “State bodies were doing everything to block protesters’ entry into Yerevan from the regions.” Security measures were also “exceptional” in the city’s Marshal Baghramian Avenue. The number of police and interior troops deployed there was larger than usual.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also attributes the low turnout at the demonstration to the previous night’s negotiations between leaders of the opposition and the parliament majority. Many people apparently thought that the “opposition is trying to make peace with the government” and it therefore makes no attend its rallies. The paper criticizes the Artarutyun bloc and the National Unity Party for delaying their “decisive” rally until next Tuesday. “What will change within the next week? It is clear that no decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe can have a decisive impact on Armenia’s internal political life.”
“Azg” says the very fact of the PACE debate on Armenia is portrayed by the opposition as a big victory. The opposition leaders at the same time tell supporters that the onus is on them for changing the president.
According to “Aravot,” the discussion in Strasbourg of “mass human rights abuses” in Armenia is highly embarrassing for the authorities. They now say that by drawing international attention to the political situation in Armenia the opposition is behaving unpatriotically. The paper says the regime’s message to its opponents is this: “Do not hold rallies, do not speak about police brutality and repressions or you will be deemed traitors and participants of a conspiracy against Armenia and Karabakh hatched by dark international forces.” “The causes and the consequences thus change their places,” the paper comments, suggesting the following recipe for the Armenian leadership: “Do not close the roads leading to Yerevan; do not torture people in police stations; do not declare someone who hurled plastic bottles [at police officers] an organizer of a coup d’etat; and no one will speak and write about that.”