“Iravunk” reports that a delegation of the Armenian parliament led by speaker Artur Baghdasarian avoided a potentially deadly plane crash as it was about to fly from the Russian city of Kaliningrad to Ukraine’s capital Kiev at the weekend. The paper says the plane malfunctioned and was grounded just seconds before takeoff. One of the plane’s wings burst into flames shortly after the Armenian delegation left it.
“According to specialists, a crash would have been inevitable if the plane had taken off,” writes “Azg.”
“Iravunk” says the intensifying government attacks on the opposition show that the authorities are edgy ahead of Sunday’s referendum. “The opposition’s boycott tactic, ridiculed by the [government] propaganda machine, has become a particular thorn in the regime’s side” says the paper.
“The opposition’s united decision to boycott the referendum has made the authorities panic in earnest,” concurs “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.”
According to “Golos Armenii,” Armenian opposition parties unite only when there is an “occasion for doing nothing.” “The boycott is the favorite method of the radicals,” comments the paper, recalling the 2003 opposition decision to boycott parliament sessions.
But as “168 Zham” writes, the opposition is not quite united. The paper argues that Artashes Geghamian and his National Unity Party (AMK) are reluctant to join anti-government rallies planned by other opposition forces.
Deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the authorities have done a good job of presenting their constitutional amendments to the public. “Naturally, we have also pointed out the dangers that would face Armenia in case of the draft’s rejection,” he says. Torosian has only one regret: “a lack of televised debates between proponents and opponents of the draft.” He also say the change of opposition tactics mid-way through the referendum campaign is proof that opposition leaders have no “serious arguments” against the constitutional reform.
“Azg” is struck by “how few people from the government” have campaigned for the new constitution. The paper believes that most pro-government politicians lacked the expertise and good public reputation to hit the campaign trail.
“Taregir” likens the authorities’ “Yes” campaign to the devastating hurricane Katrina. The weekly says pro-government campaigners have been visiting various institutions across the country with incredible pace. Opposition campaigning has been similarly vigorous, it says. The paper says the campaign has been reduced to a “brainwashing” contest.
“168 Zham” quotes the head of the Yerevan office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Vladimir Pryakhin, as saying that the decision not to invite OSCE observers to the referendum is Armenia’s internal affair. “The OSCE has never monitored [Armenian] referendums,” he says. “Neither in 1995, nor in 2003.”