Armenian newspapers report that the flamboyant mayor of Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri, Vartan Ghukasian, shot from a pistol at a group of Russian soldiers after a drunken argument in a local restaurant belonging to his brother. “Fortunately, no one was hurt and only the restaurant’s windows were left broken,” says “Aravot,” adding that Gyumri prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incident.
“The mayor, who was drunk, picked a fight with Russian servicemen sitting at a nearby table,” says “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “He lost his nerve in the process and he emptied the entire magazine [of his pistol] in the direction of the Russians.” The paper also says that no casualties were reported, suggesting sarcastically that the mayor, known for his staunch support for President Robert Kocharian, was too drunk to take aim. “The servicemen have already filed a report on the incident and the Shirak region’s police department is preparing materials in connection with the fact. Particularly important is the fact that the pistol was possessed illegally.” Officials in the Gyumri mayor’s office, however, deny that the incident took place at all.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armenians are finding the ongoing parliament debates on constitutional reform, broadcast live by state television, more interesting than Brazilian soap operas.
But according to “Azg,” the live broadcasts “do not serve their main purpose: to inform the broad TV audience.” The paper says Armenians remain unaware of the essence of the reform sought by their government. “Hearing opposite views, the TV viewer can not take a look at the [constitutional] draft, find a corresponding provision and try to solve the whom-to-believe puzzle on their own.”
“We won’t be able to enact such a progressive constitution in the coming years if the process fails today,” the parliamentary leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Levon Mkrtchian, warns in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” Mkrtchian says the Armenian opposition can not enact better constitutional changes if it achieves its sole objective: regime change.
“Today is the birthday of President Robert Kocharian,” “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” informs readers. The government paper says Kocharian, who is turning 51, has repeatedly proved that he is guided by “realism” as opposed to “romanticism.” “Skipper Kocharian is steering the ship at a time when the weather is defiant, passengers are impatiently waiting to reach the coast and the ship, which has gone through many ordeals, is in constant need of repairs along the way,” it explains. “Using his life experience, the skipper is calmly holding the steering wheel in his hands. He is not losing a sense of moment and is not used to avoiding shouldering the burden of responsibility.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also congratulates Kocharian and wishes him to have “truth-telling and fearless aides, honest and competent ministers, law-abiding deputies, business executives leading modest lives and a slightly sound opposition.”
“Aravot” mischievously expresses hope that it will be able to congratulate Kocharian “as a rank-and-file citizen” in 2008.