Arman Babajanian, the editor of “Zhamanak Yerevan” who is serving a four-year prison sentence for draft evasion, makes the point that economic growth is putting Armenia at growing risk of a “social explosion.” “In general, social explosions occur not in places hit by economic disasters but in places that are reaping the fruits of what is called economic growth,” Babajanian writes from his prison cell.
“Aravot” editorializes on what it says is a growing public apathy about politics. “Nobody feels like protesting, and there is no force capable of organizing that protest,” laments the paper. It says the Armenian intelligentsia could have helped to change this situation. “But all our intelligentsia is capable of doing is to sign collective letters with which it unmasks the ‘treacherous opposition’ and ‘foreign agents’ in Soviet style. Naturally, such a ‘pro-state’ intelligentsia will not cry foul in the event of vote rigging, closure of A1+ or displacement of central Yerevan residents.”
“Hayots Ashkhar,” meanwhile, mocks those who allege that Armenia is under a growing “criminal” influence. “Naturally, there is no lack of dishonest people in the government’s ranks,” writes the paper. “All over the world government is a place which is susceptible to various types of blatant theft. But one has to suffer from manic depression psychosis in order to say that about the whole [Armenian] government and declare the country an international crime base. Which is what we see among activists of the anti-criminal movement.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also reports that a group of dissident activists who were expelled from the Armenian Communist Party (HKK) have joined the former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir. The paper claims that this is the result of Baghdasarian’s desperate attempt to offset an exodus of party members sparked by Orinats Yerkir’s removal from the governing coalition. “A mass recruitment carried out by [the Orinats Yerkir leaders] shows that talk of an unprecedented growth of the 70,000-strong army and new recruits is just a bluff,” it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that the purpose of the proposed amendments to an Armenian law on television and radio is to further tighten the government’s grip on the electronic media. The paper says that the National Commission on Television and Radio would now be able to ban any TV program which is not to the regime’s liking. “The authorities are thus preparing not just for elections,” it says. “They are preparing to ensure their complete reproduction in the elections. Any obstacle, like the voice of opposition or rival political forces controlling media outlets, that stands in their way is subject to immediate destruction.”