“168 Zham” claims that Armenian political parties will find themselves under “full control” of the authorities after completing their re-registration in accordance with a new law on political organizations. The law requires the parties to disclose personal data on their members, including their address, place of work and passport number. “So the authorities are getting an opportunity to control one by one every individual with opposition views,” contends the paper, adding that this is creating fertile ground for blackmail and intimidation of opposition activists.
“Hayots Ashkhar” makes a case for the reform of Armenia’s constitution. “The concentration of all government powers in one fist inevitably means that the leader delegates some of those powers to the [state] apparatus, becoming dependent on the latter,” explains the paper. It says Armenian bureaucrats currently operate in “greenhouse conditions.” “They have won back the role of the linchpin of the state.”
Galust Sahakian, a leader of the governing coalition, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the Armenian opposition is now looking for excuses to avoid supporting the constitutional reform. Hence, the opposition claims that the latest constitutional draft is not good enough, says Sahakian. The draft, he says, “is not a piece of artistic work which should be liked or not liked.”
“168 Zham” takes a diametrically opposite view, criticizing the “constructive” section of the Armenian opposition for being ready in principle to support the reform. “If we take into account the widespread ignorance of the people, the fairly big investigative efforts needed for becoming familiar with the proposed changes and the persisting atmosphere of distrust in the country, it can be asserted that in the event of more or less free and fair elections the November referendum will most probably end like the previous one did.” In that case, says the paper, opposition supporters of the reform will have to share responsibility for its failure.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Ukraine and Iran have signed a memorandum that offers Armenia to serve as a transit route for Iranian natural gas supplies to Ukraine. The paper welcomes the move, saying that it does not threaten “the strategic interests of our strategic ally Russia.” It calls the idea a “unique chance” to offset Azerbaijan’s growing importance in the exports of oil and gas.