“Aravot” says that looking at the faces of hundreds of pensioners that demonstrated outside the government building in Yerevan this week, it was easy to understand that they were protesting not so much against the controversial social security cards as their “poverty, misery and state of humiliation.” “But there are forces in Armenia that are steering the very natural social protest in a totally different direction which is good for them and the authorities,” explains the paper. “So the pensioners are protesting not against corrupt officials, cocky oligarchs or inept rulers but against the absolutely innocent social cards.” Only “godless and faithless people” could organize such demonstrations, concludes the paper.
In an interview with “Ayb-Fe,” Former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian says that a new opposition grouping which his Zharangutyun party and two other opposition parties might form soon will not seek to break up the Artarutyun bloc. He says it would only “complete the struggle for Armenia and the dignity and freedom of its citizens,” adding that has been an influx of new members into his party recently.
“Hayots Ashkhar” links the latest opposition pledges of regime change to what it sees as renewed international pressure on Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. The paper says there is an increasingly urgent need for the authorities to “make foreign policy clarifications.” But it does not specify in which direction that policy shift must be.
“Iravunk” also sees “international crises” looming on the horizon. It says the authorities are already trying to cope with them by allowing more frequent appearances of opposition politicians on their loyal television channels.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says political tensions within the Armenian parliament are mounting at an “unprecedented speed.” The paper claims that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party has decided to “stop tolerating” parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s and his Orinats Yerkir Party’s grip on the National Assembly. And so the war of words between Markarian and Baghdasarian continues.
The leader of the Republican faction in the parliament, Galust Sahakian, is quoted by “Haykakan Zhamanak” as saying that Baghdasarian’s response to Markarian’s criticism was “populist.” “Today quite serious resources are being spent on so-called councils operating under the tutelage of the National Assembly chairman which he has no authority to create,” Sahakian says. “The parliament’s entire legal service and expert staff are busy collecting letters that are addressed to Orinats Yerkir but in fact faked by themselves. They are also busy organizing party at the National Assembly’s expense. The National Assembly has been turned into Orinats Yerkir’s pre-election campaign headquarters.”
Orinats Yerkir’s parliamentary leader, Samvel Balasanian, hits back, telling “Haykakan Zhamanak” that his party never takes Sahakian’s pronouncements seriously. The paper adds for its part plans to hold a demonstration of parliament staffers outside the government building.
All of this, according to “Iravunk,” calls the parliament’s work into question. It says the Republicans intend to thwart next week’s National Assembly debates.