Commenting on differing estimates of the number of people who attended Friday’s opposition rally in Yerevan, “168 Zham” says such conflicting information dates back to the 1988 campaign for Nagorno-Karabakh’s unification with Armenia. “At first the Communist regime was accusing the Karabakh Committee of inflating the number of rally participants, trying to prove arithmetically that the square adjacent to the Opera house can not physically accommodate more than 50,000 people,” says the paper. “The then opposition, the HHSh, naturally disagreed with such claims, speaking of between 100,000 and 500,000 rally participants. But after coming to power just a few years later the HHSh made the same accusations against the then opposition holding big rallies, citing calculations done with the same methods. There hasn’t been much of a change on this issue since then.”
“Azg” estimates the number of people who gathered outside Yerevan’s museum of ancient manuscripts at between 25,000 and 30,000, dismissing Levon Ter-Petrosian’s claims that the crowd was much bigger. “But for a normal person, even seeing 30,000 demonstrators is enough to understand that there are problems in the state, that a considerable part of the public says no to the authority,” comments the paper. “That is, that many people have remained of the same opinion since the events of March 1, and they continue to take to the streets, regardless of the fact that their leader never thought about the security of his supporters on March 1.”
“On the other hand, if the authority was to eventually allow the rally, what was the point of banning it outside the Matenadaran?” asks “Azg.” “Is that a sign of the authority’s weakness? Even if that’s not the case, the external impression was such.”
“Aravot” seeks to disprove government claims that there are no political prisoners in Armenia. “Political prisoners are the persons imprisoned for their political views with the aim of suspending their political activities,” explains the paper. “It is meaningless to claim that there are no such persons in Armenia.” It dismisses as a “joke” arguments that there is no legal definition of the term, saying that “there is and there was no such legal status in any country of the world.”
“On one issue the authorities and their minions are really making daily progress,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “That area of daily prosperity is the distortion.” The opposition cites government claims that Ter-Petrosian called for the “destruction of the state” in his pre-election speeches. In fact, it says, the opposition leader spoke of the dismantling of the country’s “kleptocratic system” of governance.