“Aravot” takes an ironic look at the latest global human rights rankings by the U.S. group Freedom House that puts Armenia slightly ahead of Russia. The paper says Armenia is freer than Russia first of all because it does not meddle in its neighbors’ affairs. And unlike his Russian counterpart, President Robert Kocharian never needed to scrap gubernatorial elections because Armenian regional governments have always been appointed by the central government. Another difference is that Armenia’s security apparatus is not politicized but “paid.” In Armenia, somebody like jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky would have simply bribed prosecutors and avoided going to prison, concludes the paper.
In a separate year-end commentary on Armenian foreign policy, “Aravot” recalls Yerevan’s decision to join Russia and several other, mostly Central Asian, ex-Soviet republics in lambasting the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for its alleged interference in their domestic affairs. The paper says the move was symbolic of the Armenian authorities’ poor human rights record. “And as a continuation of that absurdity, Kocharian congratulated [Ukraine’s discredited presidential candidate Viktor] Yanukovich.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the Armenians should not feel offended by Russian State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov’s description of their country as Moscow’s regional outpost. “The outpost only means that a particular country is a reliable point of reliance for one or another superpower in a particular region,” explains the paper. It is angry at the negative reaction to Gryzlov’s remark that came from not only opposition figures but also “some high-ranking officials” (presumably parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian). The paper claims that the leadership of Georgia, for instance, is “going out of its way to prove that Georgia is the West’s outpost in the South Caucasus.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armen Avetisian, an extreme nationalist politician notorious for his homophobia, has sent to Kocharian a list of senior government officials who he claims are homosexuals. Avetisian, who had earlier promised to make the list public, says officials in the presidential staff promised him to organize a meeting with Kocharian. They also “promised that the problem of those seven homosexuals will be solved in the very near future,” he says.
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” Avetisian again declines to name anyone, saying only that those officials hold senior posts in the presidential administration and the government. He assures the paper that “the list is underpinned by some facts, photographs and video materials.”
“Azg” considers Avetisian’s stated efforts to put those officials to shame “questionable.” The paper says even Avetisian is unsure about naming names. “Then what is the point of keeping the society in nervous anticipations?”