“Aravot” believes that that if the sacked Culture Minister Hovik Hoveyan had been a wealthy “oligarch” with underworld connections he would not have been punished for assaulting utility workers in Yerevan. In an editorial, the paper recalls last year’s firefight in a deserted city suburb after which “nobody was punished.” “One [of the participants of the shootout] was even awarded a Hummer jeep,” it says. Hoveyan, it says, was simply a “secondary minister whose resignation is not worth a penny.” The country’s truly powerful men will continue to “do what they want.”
“They are confident in the Orinats Yerkir party that there is a curse on the post of culture minister,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “They even know whose curse it is: the former Dashnak culture minister Roland Sharoyan’s.” The paper says Orinats Yerkir leaders seriously argue that both Hoveyan and his predecessor Tamara Poghosian were absolutely normal people before joining the government.
“They were wrong to sack Hovik Hoveyan,” “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” comments mockingly. “With that step, he proved that he completely mastered the regime’s work style.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the former human rights ombudsperson, Larsia Alaverdian, can not boast significant achievements during her two-year work. “Citizens never understood what Larisa Alaverdian stands for,” says the paper, adding that her behavior was contradictory throughout. “In any case, it was obvious that the lady was simply striving to retain her post.”
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the ombudsperson’s office has been “paralyzed” since the January 5 resignation of Alaverdian.
Alaverdian, for her part, tells “Aravot” that the Armenian authorities’ refusal to let her carry on with her duties until the election of a new ombudsperson was a “sign of weakness.” “I keep saying that one of the root causes of human rights violations is bad governance,” she says.
“Azg” says Alaverdian’s former deputy Rafik Mkhitarian is the strongest candidate for the post of ombudsperson. Mkhitarian, who was a senior Communist Party official in Soviet times, assures the paper that “no such proposals have been made yet.” “But I think it wouldn’t be immodest of me to say that I am the number one candidate,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that during Sunday’s unpublicized meeting between Robert Kocharian and leaders of the three governing parties parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian suggested that the latter stop their mutual “mudslinging.” “The parties agreed to preserve the existing coalition until the eve of 2007 within the framework of polite norms of co-existence,” says the paper.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” claims that Armenia is the only former Soviet republic that has no levers to counter spikes in Russian gas prices. “It was such a loyal and obedient outpost [of Russia] that it rejected in the past a greater diameter for the planned Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. Otherwise, Iran would have been able to export gas to Europe, something which would have hurt Russia.”