“Zhamanak Yerevan” reports that many pro-government deputies privately admitted on Thursday that they will not defy the government and reject its controversial amendments despite respecting and liking RFE/RL’s news reporting. “As it turned out, the scenario of closing down [Radio] Liberty was already written last winter,” says the paper.
According to “Azg,” there is hardly a better way of discrediting the Armenian parliament majority than ordering its “second-generation reformers” to rubber-stamp the amendments which the paper believes would amount to banning RFE/RL broadcasts in Armenia. Its say all deputies affiliated with the governing Republican, Prosperous Armenia and Dashnaktsutyun parties were strictly instructed to vote for the bill. “Yes, as always, the presidential office found a brilliant solution,” “Azg” comments.
“A fight against free speech,” reads a headline in “Hayk.” The paper says some in the National Assembly feel that with this bill President Robert Kocharian not only tried to “silence the only electronic media outlet not controlled by the authorities” but also damage Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian. “After all, the parliament majority, which is supposed to adopt this bill, are members of his HHK,” it explains.
“What was happening in the National Assembly [on Thursday] can hardly be called anything other than a parade of hypocrisy,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “Yesterday’s extraordinary session of the parliament was fully devoted to finding legal formulations for the upcoming discontinuation of Radio Liberty programs. The hypocrisy was that the parliamentary majority justified the need for Liberty’s closure with calls for democracy and freedom of speech in Armenia.”
“The closure of A1+ and Radio Liberty are part of the same process, and that process will have stricter manifestations,” the owner and director of the TV company pull off the air in 2002, Mesrop Movsesian, tells “Aravot.” Movsesian claims that the authorities plan to impose further restrictions on the media because the latter “will be playing a very important role during the presidential elections.” “Both we and the authorities realize that,” he concludes.
“The authorities have decided to shut down Radio Liberty,” contends “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “Government forces are not even trying to hide that they are solving not a legal or economic but a concrete political issue. Some Republican deputies mumble that all of this has nothing to do with freedom of speech but in the end give up and start justifying their steps with [the need to safeguard] the state’s information security, external security and other circumstances.”