(Saturday, June 7)
“A bizarre situation exists in Armenia,” writes “168 Zham.” “Those who should have been free are in jail, while many, many others who should have long been fed prison kasha, instead of black caviar or stewed sturgeon, are not only not isolated from society but keep climbing to higher state positions. Since February 19 and especially March 1 some of the good people of our country have been transferred to detention centers. And yet the prisons, as the forgotten Artashes Geghamian would say, are craving for leaders of the state, high-ranking officials, corrupt ministers, customs officers extorting bribes from entrepreneurs and those who keep them in those positions.”
Citing information purportedly obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, “Zhamanak Yerevan” claims that President Serzh Sarkisian “commissioned and carried out paid lobbying activity in the USA and Europe in 2006-2007 to the benefit of his personal rating.” The opposition paper claims that Sarkisian spent more than $331,000 for that purpose. That, it says, included meetings with senior Western officials and newspaper articles casting Sarkisian in positive light.
Writing in “Hraparak,” a prominent supporter of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian says that for the Armenian authorities financing the opposition is a crime tantamount to a coup d’etat. “Of course, provided that that opposition was not created by them,” says Ara Sahakian.
“Aravot” dismisses as a gimmick President Sarkisian’s plans to set up a consultative “public council” of prominent politicians, intellectuals and other public figures. The paper says that the body will be ineffectual even if some opposition members agree to take part in its work. “What would that change?” it asks. “Which political or social problem would be solved? So it’s better not to create meaningless structures and to democratize the existing institutions instead. The former is easy, the latter difficult.”