“Haykakan Zhamanak” does not believe in the official explanation that President Robert Kocharian cancelled his planned visit to France on Monday because of a leg injury suffered in Georgia. “It is obvious that the acting Armenian president’s leg wasn’t injured to such an extent that made what must have been a highly desirable meeting with the president of France objectively impossible. At least, Robert Kocharian was seen walking quite steadily yesterday.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” adds that the trip was delayed by the French side and that “the delay is somehow connected to Kocharian’s visit to Georgia.” The paper claims that the reported leg injury ushered Kocharian in “the most difficult period of his presidency and perhaps life.”
“Horses are changed in midstream after all,” reads a headline in “Iravunk.” “It was not by accident that Robert Kocharian delayed his visit to France scheduled for April 4, citing a leg injury,” writes the paper. It says the trip to France was supposed to give a new impetus to his government’s stated efforts to bring Armenia closer to Europe. The visit’s postponement signaled the failure of those efforts.
“There are signs that Kocharian’s regime intends to suppress any opposition activity in the most brutal way,” charges “Iravunk.” The paper points to unusually strong “police pressure” on participants of a weekend rally in Yerevan by journalists marking the third anniversary of the closure of the A1+ TV channel.
“Aravot” says the police actions exposed the Armenian authorities’ fear of possible spillover effects of anti-government uprisings across the former Soviet Union. The paper says the CIS regimes remaining in power are increasingly “paranoid” about any manifestation of dissent in their countries. But it says the authorities have only “restored public and political interest in A1+ in particular and freedom of speech in general.”
Citing “well-informed sources,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that U.S. special services are “showing particular interest in the Armenian oligarchy and each of the oligarchs lately.” “The thing is that the oligarchs are beginning to be mentioned in official American documents relating to Armenia as the main factor hampering Armenia’s liberalization and contributing to corruption.” The Americans, claims the paper, also increasingly associate vote rigging with the oligarchs’ activities.
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” Perj Zeytuntsian, a prominent Armenian writer, laments the lack of “moral constraints” in Armenia. “I don’t see those constraints today,” he says. “In our country, people’s greatest discontent stems from that moral decline.”