“Hayots Ashkhar” continues to hail the holding of a controversial constitutional referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that the unrecognized republic has proved that it is capable or organizing electoral processes meeting international standards. The paper say that is particularly important for the implementation of the existing international peace plan that envisages a future referendum on Karabakh’s status. It also dismisses as “meaningless” Azerbaijani criticism of Sunday’s vote.
“Hayk” takes a diametrically opposite view, saying that the December 10 referendum took place “in the spirit of Soviet times.” The paper claims that the vote was needed by the Armenian government for “covering up its foreign policy failings.” As for the Karabakh authorities, it says they wanted to demonstrate their independence to the international community.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” attacks the authorities over the arrest of Zhirayr Sefilian, a Lebanese Armenian who took part in the Karabakh war. The paper claims that not only Sefilian but the vast majority of other war veterans are highly critical of Armenia’s current leadership. Those who dare to challenge it openly are now risking imprisonment. “It was no coincidence that they arrested Zhirayr Sefilian, a representative of the defiant section of the freedom fighters, on the same day that they advised members of the Yerkrapah Union to stay away from politics.”
“I am saying honestly that we will not be taking part in the elections,” General Manvel Grigorian, chairman of the Yerkrapah Union, is quoted by “168 Zham” as saying. “The whole country is already busy doing politics … Our structures do not owe anything to anyone except Yerkrapah.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the case against Sefilian will likely become yet another example of political repression in Armenia. “Regardless of the circumstances of the case, it is somewhat unclear why they had to arrest Sefilian in a restaurant, in the presence of women, and why that could not have been done in broad daylight,” editorializes the paper.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” speculates that President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian have “finally” decided to make Prime Minister Andranik Markarian a scapegoat for their policy failures of the past six years. “And that is understandable,” says the paper. “The alien element in this trio is Andranik Markarian.”