“Aravot” reports that the police chief of Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri, Shirak Shahnazarian, has been sacked for “compromising the officer’s honor” after reports that he dined with crime figures in a local restaurant last July. Citing unnamed police sources, the paper says Shahnazarian told one of the participants of the dinner that the municipal police will back him if he runs for Gyumri mayor.
In an interview with “Ayb-Fe,” Stepan Demirchian indicates that he and his opposition People’s Party (HZhK) will not join street protests that could be unilaterally staged by the radical Hanrapetutyun party. “We will take part only in those actions that are discussed and taken as a result of joint decisions,” he says.
“Iravunk” reports that leaders of some two dozen opposition will meet behind the closed doors next week to issue a joint declaration rejecting constitutional amendments that are due to be put to a referendum in November. The paper says they will also draw up a joint plan of actions aimed at blocking the passage of the amendments.
“If the Armenian authorities fail in the November referendum, then there will be no doubt that everyone starting from Robert Kocharian must resign,” a close associate of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, Vahagn Khachatrian, tells “Iravunk.”
“Aravot” editorializes that heads of local governments in Armenia usually get “elected” before elections as a result of “agreements between various government and mobster clans.” The paper says Yerevan’s Kanaker-Zeytun district has so far been the only community where those clans could not reach agreement. Local elections are otherwise mere formalities decided by “fear, money and administrative resources.” This is what will happen in the Kentron and Arabkir districts this Sunday, concludes the paper.
Another feature of the local elections is the virtual absence of candidates jointly fielded and endorsed by the three parties represented in government. “Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the Republican Party, as saying that the coalition was right not to put forward common candidates.
According to “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun,” the recent elections in several Yerevan districts “once again proved that hopes for holding free and fair elections in Armenia are mere illusions.” “The facts of vote irregularities come to prove that having a more or less normal law is not a sufficient condition for holding a normal election,” writes the paper. “What matters is a desire of the authorities and law-enforcement bodies that organize elections.”