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Press Review


Citing sources in the governing Republican Party (HHK), “Hayk” reports that Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian has told his subordinates to work hard and “forget about vacations” this summer. The paper says Sarkisian is anxious to boost his approval ratings, discourage other potential presidential candidates in the government camp from contesting the 2008 elections and prevent the opposition from agreeing on a single candidate. It says the government may soon come up with more draft laws “directed against the opposition and the opposition media.” “He will thereby both deal a blow to the opposition and show that the National Assembly works during the hot summer months as well.”

Vartan Khachatrian, a parliament deputy from the opposition Zharangutyun party, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the defeat of government-drafted legislation that could have effectively banned RFE/RL broadcasts in Armenia was a “victory for the Armenian people.” “Our country no longer has a totalitarian regime,” he says. “But we do have an authoritarian regime, and the transition period in our country is not yet over.”

“Taregir” says the parliament vote on the media bill in question exposed the first serious cracks within the ruling coalition. The paper points to the failure by most deputies from the Prosperous Armenia and Dashnaktsutyun parties to take part in the vote. “It would be naïve to think that only Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian want to close Radio Liberty. Judging from the big dose of hatred shown by the young [HHK deputy] Armen Ashotian towards Radio Liberty and the opposition media or [HHK leader] Galust Sahakian’s philosophical musings, it is evident that many, many people hate and fear [Radio] Liberty.”

“Aravot” attacks Dashnaktsutyun leader Hrant Markarian over his calls for an end to the retransmission of RFE/RL programs by Armenian Public Radio. “When defending somebody’s rights, we journalists do not expect them to be eternally grateful to us,” writes the paper. “But we do hope that we will not be treated with ingratitude. Unfortunately, the representative of Dashnaktsutyun’s Bureau, Hrant Markarian, provided one such example [of ingratitude] by declaring that the radio station was defending jailed Dashnaks [in 1995-1998] just because it was against Armenia’s [former] regime. It is noteworthy that he did not claim this when he was in opposition and was in need of such defense. Nor was Hrant Markarian declaring at the time that he feels offended by the fact that Armenia retransmits radio programs of a foreign country for money.” Dashnaktsutyun, concludes the paper, has since become part of a “regime that doesn’t tolerate free speech in Armenia.”

(Atom Markarian)
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