The prospect of an end of RFE/RL broadcasts in Armenia makes front-page headlines in Thursday's editions of virtually all major Armenian newspapers.
“While Robert Kocharian managed to close the sole independent TV channel, A1+, in advance of his  election, Serzh Sarkisian wants to pull off the air the sole independent radio station, Liberty, which is stronger than many TV companies in terms of its broadcast span and influence,” writes “Hayk.” “Of course, international structures will protest and once again describe Armenia as an undemocratic country. But it is crystal clear that such petty issues do not bother the Armenian authorities who are ready to play with the country’s reputation and future in order to retain power.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” has a diametrically opposite view on the development. “It is clear that the government simply can no longer disregard the issues of the country’s security and defense,” writes the paper. “It is increasingly obvious that many non-governmental and media structures operating in our country serve foreign interests.”
“The U.S. Congress finances this radio company to provide unbiased and timely information to the publics in countries with democracy-related problems,” editorializes “Zhamanak Yerevan.” “By closing down Radio Liberty, the Armenian authorities solve that issue: they eliminate the sole electronic media outlet which is not under their influence and whose activities are not controlled by them.”
“Aravot” dismisses claims by pro-government politicians that freedom of expression is no longer at risk in Armenia, pointing to the closure of A1+ and serious concerns regularly expressed by Western media rights groups. According to the paper, calling the Armenian media free is tantamount to saying that “there are no political prisoners in Armenia, the authorities’ rating is incredibly high, criminalized oligarchs can ‘effectively’ fight for human rights, and suspects and witnesses are not tortured in police custody.”
“It is obvious that the government has simply decided to close Liberty,” comments “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “Of course, theoretically [RFE/RL] can be retransmitted by other radio stations. But given the undeniable fact that all electronic media in Armenia are under full government control, such a fate does not await Liberty.”
“The authorities’ tactics has changed,” writes “168 Zham.” “Instead of describing a mass medium not liked by them as ‘poor,’ they prefer to impose huge fees and thereby silence the impartial speech. And the parliament, which is meant to adopt those changes, will hardly resist. Coming up next are presidential elections which need to be held in more comfortable conditions.”