(March 18, Saturday)
Azg publishes comments of the Georgian ambassador to Armenia, Revaz Gachechiladze, on the murder of an ethnic Armenian in the Tsalka region of Georgia, who denies any ethnic grounds behind the murder and sees only criminal motives. “I don’t think there might be any ethnic grounds behind what happened there. Similar cases more often happen in Russia, but no political attention is drawn to them,” the ambassador emphasizes, drawing parallels with last year’s incident in Tbilisi in which an ethnic Armenian was apprehended for attempting to throw a hand-grenade at U.S. President George W. Bush. “It didn’t matter to us whether he was an ethnic Armenian or not. He had committed a crime and that was the only thing that mattered. But it did matter to the Armenian press whether his surname was pronounced as Arutiunov or Harutiunian.”
Meanwhile, in an Aravot interview the leader of the Multiethnic Georgia movement, Arnold Stepanian, notes that what happened in Tsalka, indeed, was a criminal act, but at the same time claims that it was the result of a markedly expressed interethnic standoff.
In 168 Zham, Armenian Nationwide Movement (HHSh) Board Vice-Chairman Andranik Hovakimian notes: “The Russian Federation will always do everything for the smoldering hotbeds of potential wars in Nagorno-Karabakh and Ossetia never to be put out. This policy enables it [Russia] to foist what it wants on the conflicting parties.” In Hovakimian’s definition, Armenia has virtually become a baton in the hands of Russia with which it tries to influence one process or another in the South Caucasus.
Aravot publishes the view of opposition politician David Shahnazarian on the recent developments in the Karabakh peace process. Armenia’s former top Karabakh negotiator, in particular, says: “For the first time in the 14-year history of the Karabakh talks, the United States has publicly shown its initiative. In fact, the U.S. single-handedly disallowed the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliev, to achieve their goal of discontinuing the negotiations and the peace process. The U.S. gave a fresh impetus to the talks due to which the negotiating process once again avoided an impasse.”
In the context of the inglorious end of the Slobodan Milosevic era in the history of former Yugoslavia, Chorrord Ishkhanutyun analyzes: “All neighbors of Milosevic in due time chose the West not because they all were pro-Western, but because they had the ability to think. “It was a foolish thing to oppose the dominant force. Serbia was the only country that allowed for its Slavonic commonalities in its calculations, and the cause of the current situation is not so much the Serbian decision as the Russian aspiration to sell everything at the highest possible price. Serbia paid a heavy price for choosing that and will continue to pay,” the paper writes, adding: “It is now Armenia’s turn to choose.”
Under the headline “A Failed Attempt on a Deputy’s Life” Aravot reports on the recent exposure by the national security service of a planned murder of MP Sasun Mikaelian at the stage of preparation. The paper writes that despite the fact that the one who commissioned the murder is known as one of the authorities of the town of Hrazdan, nicknamed Kone, strangely there are not suspects arrested in the case. “The MP himself turned to the law-enforcement bodies, but the fact is that the national security service twice invited for interrogation Manvel Baghdasarian, a.k.a. Kone, and twice let him go. There is still no criminal case,” Aravot writes in surprise, claiming that there is ample evidence, including the MP’s testimony, the recorded story of the assassin, the weapon of the crime, etc. to serve as grounds for charging Kone with masterminding an attempted murder.
168 Zham quotes its sources at the presidential palace alleging that President Robert Kocharian had instructed law-enforcement agencies to check the activities of all members of the Orinats Yerkir party. The unnamed sources reveal to the paper that as a result of the checkup the law-enforcers found about $72 million of shadow revenues hidden by a number of members of parliament from Orinats Yerkir who own large businesses or are engaged in state programs. “And now the presidential apparatus demands that this sum be returned, which has caused a great confusion inside the Orinats Yerkir party,” the paper writes.
On the same subject, Chorrord Ishkhanutyun claims that Robert Kocharian allows officials “to earn money” in order to have compromising materials on them. “If anyone tries to speak wrongly of Kocharian after he retires, he will face immediate arrest,” the paper concludes.
In Hayots Ashkhar’s view, the process of setting up new political forces in Armenia starts resembling ordinary business plans. To prove his statement the paper’s analyst cites the most typical example of this, namely the failed attempt of former chief of presidential staff Artashes Tumanian to set up the Nor Yerkir party. “No one understands why his attempt failed, because no one really knew why the party was initiated.”