(Saturday, October 1)
“Aravot” reports that special police raided on Thursday night a discothèque in downtown Yerevan and rounded up prostitutes present there “without any explanation and warrants.” The paper claims that the police operation was aimed at “catering” for police chiefs from Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States that were in Yerevan for a regular meeting.
“Chorrord” Ishkhanutyun” carries a similar report saying that the prostitutes were forcibly delivered to the top CIS policemen. “After eating and drinking well the distinguished CIS generals expressed other desires which had not been planned in advance,” writes the paper. “The hospitable organizers had to hastily pick up a few prostitutes from the streets of Yerevan.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armenia’s governing coalition is again divided over the controversial and politically charged issue of compensating hundreds of thousands of people who lost their Soviet-era bank savings in the hyperinflation of the early 1990s. The paper says parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir Party broke ranks to include a relevant bill on the parliament agenda over the objections of the government and Republican Party (HHK) in particular. “It must be admitted that by exploiting this bill Orinats Yerkir will not only earn dividends but will put the rival HHK … in an extremely difficult position,” it says.
Interviewed by “Aravot,” Levon Mkrtchian, a leader of the third governing party, Dashnaktsutyun, speaks of the need to grant a “cultural autonomy” Georgia’s Armenian-populated Javakheti region. “The Javakheti Armenians’ demand is elementary,” he says. “People want to carry on with their Armenian lifestyle, to have an Armenian educational and cultural system, to be full-fledged citizens of Georgia and not to feel any discrimination.” Mkrtchian believes Javakheti should become a “symbol of Georgian-Armenian friendship,” saying that the November 2003 regime change in Tbilisi rendered such prospect “much more real.”
“As regards the autonomy, if by that people mean self-rule, then welcome it,” Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “But if that is only the political aim of certain individuals, we don’t take it seriously. I don’t know and don’t take interest in those groups which engage in that. We are prepared to listen to the persons who were elected by the people and those are now the parliament deputies elected [in Javakheti] under the majoritarian system.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” attacks a statement by 17 opposition parties rejecting President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional reform. The paper says the statement said nothing about the content of Kocharian’s constitutional amendments. “There has arisen an extremely weird situation. In essence, a considerable part of the opposition has rallied not against the constitutional changes but the government which put them forward. The [constitutional] referendum is viewed by them as a mere means or tool for starting a revolution.”