“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s brother Aleksandr “has begun buying up real property and doing business in Los Angeles.” “But when the value of real property acquired by him surpassed 12 million [dollars] he immediate attracted the attention of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations. They demanded that Sashik Sarkisian present an income and property declaration, which the National Assembly deputy did, showing U.S. law-enforces a $30 million declaration.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Larisa Alaverdian, the human rights ombudsman, has watered down her report on the controversial mass eviction of residents of Yerevan’s old neighborhoods before posting it on her agency’s website. The paper says Alaverdian removed some “strict evaluations” of the Armenian government’s handing of the process from the initial version of the report. It is obvious to the paper that Alaverdian “avoided upsetting some bodies.”
“Aravot” says that none of the heads or deputy heads of Armenia’s 41 regional election commissions represents the opposition. “All those posts were given to representatives of the Armenian president or pro-government parties,” it writes.
“Hayots Ashkhar” suggests that the U.S. government may well be using the Armenian genocide resolutions in Congress to hold Turkey in check. The paper hopes that Washington will also step up its pressure on Ankara to lift its blockade of Armenia.
Levon Mkrtchian, the parliamentary leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), makes a case for the passage of constitutional amendments drafted by Kocharian and his coalition, in an interview with “Yerkir.” “This is not a matter of contention between the government and the opposition,” he says. “At stake is the future of our country. The important thing is to take part in the referendum because saying no is very difficult. You may have noticed that the opposition prefers the boycott option because the draft is so good that it would take a great deal of responsibility to say no.”
“The opposition will say no to the draft constitutional amendments proposed by the coalition government,” writes “Ayb-Fe.” “However, tactical issues are still under discussion.”
Mher Shahgeldian, a leading member of the governing Orinats Yerkir Party, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that Armenia’s leadership has been far more cooperative in its dealings with the Council of Europe than the Azerbaijani government. He argues that Baku has refused to amend Azerbaijan’s election law along the lines of Venice Commission recommendations. “Not only have we reformed the electoral code, but our package of constitutional changes to be put to a referendum has won the approval of the United States and the European structures,” says Shahgeldian. “If we manage to use this advantage correctly we will find ourselves in a more beneficial position than Azerbaijan, which is also important in terms of asserting our views in the Karabakh peace process.”
“Azg” reports that an opinion poll conducted by the National Academy of Sciences found that only 30 percent of Yerevan residents know in what year the Armenian alphabet was created. Most of them did not know that the 1600th anniversary of that event is being officially marked in Armenia. “Only 40 percent knew that the alphabet has 39 letters. Others put their number at 18 to 50.” But the paper is encouraged by the fact that 97 percent of respondents were aware of the fact that the letters were created by Mesrop Mashtots.