(Saturday, October 29)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that students of an Armenian religious seminary in Jerusalem have assaulted and revolted against their principal, Archimandrite Paren Yeritsian. The trouble is said to have broken out after Yeritsian beat up one of the students. “After that the students decided to protect their comrade and finally get rid of the dictator,” says the paper, adding that Jerusalem’s Armenian Patriarch Torgom Manukian was forced to relive the priest of his duties on Friday. The incident, which the paper jokingly calls an “orange revolution,” was discussed by the leadership of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Echmiadzin.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also reports that speaking at a Washington think-tank last week, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian said that Armenia supports a peace accord that would lead to an independence referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh. “Serzh Sarkisian publicly admitted that the issue of holding an independence referendum in Karabakh in the future is being discussed in the Karabakh peace process,” comments the paper.
Interviewed by “168 Zham,” a senior member of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) claims that a “yes” vote at the upcoming constitutional referendum would enable Kocharian to stay in power for two more five-year terms. Andranik Hovakimian argues that Kocharian’s package of amendments, if adopted, will mean a new constitution.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says opposition criticism of Western officials calling for the passage of Kocharian’s amendments is completely unjustified. The paper argues in particular that the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission was supposed pass judgment on the constitutional draft.
“Aravot” notes in this regard that in its last statement on the Armenian constitutional reform the Venice Commission stated that not only Armenia’s government but also opposition must be ready to make political concessions and take a “constructive” stance.
“Aravot” says separately that the opposition campaign against the proposed constitutional changes has so far been a success. “For Stepan Demirchian and other leaders of the Artarutyun bloc it has become a presidential campaign of sorts. The HZhK leader [Demirchian] is received as a president everywhere [in the country],” claims the paper.
But “Hayots Ashkhar” takes a diametrically opposite view. The pro-Kocharian paper laughs off the arguments cited by opposition leaders.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Armenian government plans to collect 4.4 billion drams ($10 million) in extra revenues next year as a result of “improvement of tax administration.” “This phrase means that the money will be raised from the shadow sector of the economy.” The paper believes that the sum is very modest given the huge size of the shadow economy.