“Iskakan Iravunk” notes that the confrontation between Armenia’s leadership and opposition led by Levon Ter-Petrosian “does not seem to be deepening.” “Neither side is taking drastic steps,” it says. “The authority confines itself to hading soft prison sentences [to arrested oppositionists] and ordering police actions that are not particularly forceful, while Levonites [content themselves] with petty actions and information provocations.” The papers says Ter-Petrosian and his “Western patrons” are aware that summer has traditionally not been the best time for holding rallies in Armenia. For their part, the authorities’ avoidance of “drastic” actions gives the impression that they are complying with the Europeans’ demands.
“Hraparak” claims that the authorities have “declared a war against their own citizens.” “The kind of war that does not presuppose an armistice and mutual compromise,” says the paper, singling out the government actions against opposition supporters on March 1. “March 1 put an end to the existence of the Third Republic of Armenia. We stand at a crossroads that will determine the fate of our next generations,” it concludes.
“Aravot” reports that Gagik Jahangirian, the arrested former deputy prosecutor-general allied to Ter-Petrosian, has asked Armenia’s Administrative Court to declare null and void his February 24 sacking by former President Robert Kocharian. His lawyer, Lusine Sahakian, is quoted as saying that the presidential decree was illegal.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” say the authorities have decided to “step up police repressions,” continue to intimidate Ter-Petrosian supporters and make sure that none of the arrested oppositionists is acquitted in court. The paper says they are also keen to show that Ter-Petrosian is not as popular as many think. The latter task is to be accomplished by pro-government pollsters, it says.
“The March 1 mass arrests of participants of the [Ter-Petrosian-led] civil movement certainly had a negative impact on the natural development of the popular movement,” writes “Zhamanak Yerevan.” “However, the presence of prisoners arrested for their political views has considerably boosted the moral-psychological atmosphere and even conditions in penitentiary institutions. That is particularly visible in the Nubarashen prison [of Yerevan] where about 1,000 people are being kept. According to our sources, detainees and prisoners have begun demanding from the prison administration realization of their legal rights pertaining to various spheres. Something which was usually considered a bad thing in the criminal honor code of the reputedly unruly Nubarashen. Prison workers’ treatment of inmates has also improved substantially.”