The 17th anniversary of the 1988 earthquake is a major theme of Wednesday’s Armenian press commentary.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” writes that the country’s northern regions devastated by the quake have all but recovered from ruins and psychological trauma. The paper says the government efforts to rebuild them have been a success.
“We have not learned lessons from the earthquake,” reads a headline in “Azg.” The paper says extensive construction underway in Yerevan and other parts of the country is proceeding in breach of seismic safety norms. It also says many buildings in central Yerevan have been rendered more vulnerable by the continuing transformation of their basements and ground floors into shops, restaurants and other businesses.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that the Armenian opposition is looking for scapegoats after its “failure to botch the constitutional referendum.” Those scapegoats are not only the Armenian authorities but the Council of Europe and even the country’s population, claims the paper.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Armenian parliament’s failure to make a quorum on Tuesday was a serious blow opposition hopes of boosting attendance of the anti-government rallies in Yerevan. Opposition lawmakers hoped to use a regular parliament session, which had to be broadcast by state television, to urge people to attend Friday’s rally. The paper says the authorities foiled those plans with a simple step, highlighting their ability to foretell opposition actions.
“The boycott [of this week’s parliament sessions] is apparently directed against the National Assembly chairman as well,” opposition deputy Victor Dallakian tells “Aravot.” Dallakian says the Republican and Dashnaktsutyun parties are unhappy with Artur Baghdasarian’s public acknowledgement of serious vote irregularities. He says Baghdasarian’s two deputies, Tigran Torosian and Vahan Hovannisian, enjoyed watching Baghdasarian on Monday while he was subjected to embarrassing questioning by the opposition minority.
“If all goes on like this there will probably be a need to think about forming a new government,” a senior member of Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir party, Hovannes Markarian, tells “Aravot.” “One which would be able to secure a parliament majority.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also disapproves of the “turmoil” in the National Assembly. The paper says it underscores “the self-destructive nature of our political landscape.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reacts to Energy Minister Armen Movsisian’s remark that Russian natural gas has until now been cheap for Armenian because of the “personal rapport” between Vladimir Putin and Robert Kocharian. The paper says that rapport should also explain why the Russians have bought some of Armenia’s leading power plants at what it considers knock-down prices.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports on activities of an Armenian “rehabilitation center” campaigning against the spread of foreign non-traditional religious sects. The head of the center, Aleksandr Amarian, is quoted as saying that “even representatives of three African states” have set up a sect in Armenia. “They come from Africa to deliver the true word of God to the Armenians,” he says alarmingly. “That is a strong slap on the face of a people who adopted Christianity 1,700 years ago.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that an Armenian journalist controversially charged with extortion walked free from an appeals court on Tuesday after spending over six month in jail.