“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that new cracks are emerging within Armenia’s three-party governing coalition, with parliamentary leaders of the Dashnaktsutyun and Republican parties blaming on Tuesday speaker Artur Baghdasarian for the latest turmoil in the National Assembly. “Furthermore, Republican deputies were openly slamming the chairman of the National Assembly for his visit to Kuwait, saying that the opening of the [parliament’s spring] session should have been much more important for the country’s number two figure than going to Kuwait, the latest in a series of his pointless visits abroad.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” adds that “this situation is provoked from the presidential residence in order to prepare ground for the parliament’s dissolution.” “The dissolution of the National Assembly could be needed by Robert Kocharian for foreign policy purposes. For example, for taking a break in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.” Besides, says the paper, the Armenian opposition is now too weak to make a strong showing in fresh parliamentary elections.
“Aravot” reports that at least one of the participants of extraordinary violence against journalists covering an opposition rally last April is said to have been a key actor in Friday’s massive gunfight in Yerevan. The paper says if the man, called Hrair Harutiunian, and the likes of him enjoy complete impunity because of their close ties to some of Armenia’s most powerful individuals. “Much of political power in Armenia is concentrated in the hands of criminal business … and illegal armed groups belonging to it. Would any policeman or prosecutor dare enter any oligarch’s compound and ask, ‘How many so-called bodyguards do you have? What weapons do they have? What are their functions?’ … Those gangs are part of the regime and carry out government orders, including political ones.”
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” up to three dozen people have been arrested in connection with the shootout and “that does not seem to be the end.” The paper says police have also confiscated large quantities of weapons. More importantly, it adds, reports that one of the key participants of the gang clash has close ties to pro-Kocharian tycoon Gagik Tsarukian “seem to be proving correct.” The paper is quick to stress that this does not necessarily mean that Tsarukian or any other prominent individual had a hand in the settling of scores. “Holding them responsible for the actions of their every relative or acquaintance is not serious.” It hopes that the police will use the case to at last disarm the “good fellows” increasingly emboldened by the atmosphere of impunity.