“Aravot” condemns the “crying injustice” of Wednesday’s court decision to sentence an opposition supporter to 18 months in prison. The paper says the ruling showed that for the Armenian authorities hurling a plastic bottle at a police officer during the break-up of an opposition demonstration is a much more serious offence than beating to death a person who is deemed to have insulted President Robert Kocharian. A Kocharian bodyguard who was convicted of committing the murder in Yerevan’s Aragast café in 2001 got off with a suspended two-year jail term. The paper says the harsh punishment of Edgar Arakelian again made nonsense of the Armenian judiciary’s claims of independence.
“Why didn’t they try, along with Edgar Arakelian, those policemen who beat up demonstrators and, more importantly, journalists who were also performing their work duties?” asks “Aravot.” “If the policemen were unable to tell journalists [from opposition protesters], then the 24-year-old lad too could not notice the policemen. Especially given the fact that he was stunned by a truncheon and electric-shock.”
“Even the worst pessimists didn’t anticipate such a verdict,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “The main reason for it is the fact that Edgar is a member of the [opposition] HZhK and went against this regime. Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain how come the same court gave the presidential bodyguard Kuku a suspended sentence but imposes a 1.5-year imprisonment for a strike with a bottle of Jermuk (Armenian mineral water). This is the most obvious proof of the reality that the court is a pocket toy of the president and that court rulings are handed down not in the courtroom but the presidential administration.”
“The opposition can not provoke a serious political crisis, but by putting Armenia under more and more [international] obligations and requirements it is managing to stall our country’s integration into European structures,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” The continuation of the status quo is “fraught with new losses for both the entire country and the opposition itself,” noting that the parliament majority may eventually strip opposition deputies of their mandates.” The paper adds that the dissolution of the National Assembly is also a possibility.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also quotes the Russian ambassador to Armenia, Anatoly Dryukov, as expressing concern at the continuing confrontation between the Armenian government and the opposition. “It is beyond doubt that a destabilization of the situation in the country would threaten the existing positive trends in the economy, would reflect negatively on the socioeconomic plight of the population and Armenian statehood,” Dryukov says. “Furthermore, such a course of developments would negatively affect stability in the entire Caucasian region.” Dryukov goes on to chide the opposition demands for regime change in Armenia.
“Azg” reports that Moscow-based political pundit Andranik Migranian has called for the creation of an Armenian-Azerbaijani “reconciliation commission.” Migranian says that the commission could be set up and operate along the lines of the now defunct Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission of which he was a member. “If Armenians and Turks succeeded in establishing a dialogue, then the same can be done in the case of Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Especially given that disagreements between Armenia and Turkey are deeper in view of the fact of genocide.”