“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports on Wednesday’s forcible removal of its correspondent Gohar Vezirian from a Yerevan courtroom in which she covered the trial of opposition leader Smbat Ayvazian. The opposition paper says that Gagik Avetisian’s decision to punish Vezirian for contempt of the court was “illegal” and constituted a serious infringement of press freedom. “We demand that both Gagik Avetisian and other individuals who obstructed the journalist’s work be subjected to criminal liability,” it says.
“This court incident shows just how wretched our judicial system is,” writes “Hayk.” “If Serzh Sarkisian really wants to contribute a little to Armenia’s democratization and the strengthening of its judiciary, then he must swiftly take steps to take back Gagik Avetisian’s judge gown, while those who hit and shoved the journalist must at least be dismissed. Or else, we would once again conclude that Serzh Sarkisian’s real aim is not Armenia’s democratization but the strengthening of the dictatorial system.”
“Under the new law on the prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor is the main pillar of a criminal trial,” “Hraparak” quotes Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian as saying on Wednesday. The remark prompts a scathing comment from the paper: “In dictatorships, the prosecutor is the pivotal figure of not only a trial but the whole country.”
“Aravot” brushes aside political parties presenting themselves as “patriotic opposition,” saying that their mission is to lambaste Levon Ter-Petrosian, rather than oppose the government. “The authorities tolerate and even encourage slander directed at the assassinated prime minister [Vazgen Sarkisian] so long as its authors stick to abusive language against the first president and his political team,” comments the paper. “It would be normal if all those criticisms related to Ter-Petrosian’s current political activities. The trouble is that the main target of attacks is the history of our state: the years from 1990-1998.”
Interviewed by “Aravot,” a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Vahan Hovannisian, says that the ideas of freedom and democracy are used by Ter-Petrosian and his entourage as a smokescreen to “destroy the state.” “Seeing this, we naturally cooperate with those forces that at least claim to stand for keeping, preserving and strengthening this state,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” is unimpressed by the Armenian government’s decision to have all market traders use cash registers, which is aimed at complicating tax evasion. “At first glance, this is absolutely right,” says the paper. “The government is trying to bring retail trade out of the shadow and get tax revenues from that business. But only at first glance.” It claims that the measure will hit hard thousands of small traders and push up prices of key consumer goods.