(Saturday, January 15)
“Aravot” says that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian tendencies are being increasingly emulated by the ruling regimes in Armenia and other ex-Soviet states and that the United States is worried about that. “The United States today feels strong enough to finally establish its order in the world and is concentrating on those countries that could impede the realization of those ambitions,” claims the paper. It says Russia stands no chance of winning in that competition because it is much weaker than the former Soviet Union. “This must be taken into consideration by our statesmen who have so far bet on an inherently weak horse.”
“Aravot” at the same time disapproves of the increasingly pro-Western statements by Armenian opposition leaders, saying that their discourse is purely opportunistic. “In any case, we must choose our value system without any external pressure,” it concludes.
“Hayots Ashkhar” blasts Human Rights Watch for its latest highly critical report on Armenia, accusing the New York-based watchdog of applying double standards. The paper anticipates that the Armenian opposition will seize upon the report to renew its attacks on President Robert Kocharian. It is confident that the opposition will ignore the fact that HRW criticism of human rights protection in Azerbaijan was even stronger.
“The people have great expectations from the opposition and the questions of when and how [it will bring about regime change] are again pressing for the people,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” Sarkisian is confident that Armenia will have elections before the expiry of Kocharian’s and parliament’s constitutional terms in 2008. He also says Kocharian’s harsh criticism of the Armenian tax and customs authorities is punishable by criminal law. “That is, he knows who evades taxes, who flouts laws in this country and doesn’t tell [law-enforcement bodies] … Kocharian is now leading a lifestyle characteristic of Dubai sheikhs and that is so because of the people whom he is purportedly threatening. He is the most corrupt [official] and therefore has no resources to even slightly hurt corrupt officials and oligarchs.” “There will definitely be active processes in Armenia in the very near future,” Sarkisian concludes.
“Azg” reports that a fact-finding mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is scheduled to visit Armenian-occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh later this month to look into Azerbaijani allegations that the Armenian government is officially resettling them with Armenian families. “Claims by official Yerevan and Stepanakert that no policy of resettlement is being pursued in the security zone unfortunately correspond to reality,” it says.