“Aravot” believes that Armenian government officials’ and politicians’ reluctance to comment on the dramatic developments in Georgia is “absolutely understandable.” “The issue is really delicate,” says the paper. “First of all, because the Kremlin is working with both the government and the opposition, and even a hint of opposition condemnation of Russia could change that country’s neutral position on our domestic political problems. Things are more simple on the government side: an outpost does not discuss the center’s actions.”
“Hraparak” criticizes President Serzh Sarkisian for continuing his holiday in China despite serious challenges facing Armenia as a result of the Russian-Georgian conflict. “In this situation, any head of a normal country would rush back home to be with his people,” says the paper. “But our president prefers secular pleasures to the hard work of a head of state. And he is wondering why people chant ‘Armenia without Serzh!’”
Van Bayburt, an ethnic Armenian adviser of Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili, assures “Aravot” that Russia’s military onslaught has not left Georgians in a state of panic. He says the purpose of the Russian campaign is to provoke a popular uprising against Saakashvili. “The Russians thought that the people will blame Saakashvili after that,” says Bayburt. “But the opposite happened. The people rallied around their president.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that Artur Mehrabian, the controversial police chief of Yerevan’s central administrative district, bullied and verbally abused on Tuesday people attending the trial of opposition leader Smbat Ayvazian. “We will beat the hell out of you on September 5,” Mehrabian is quoted as shouting at a group of pro-opposition women.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Mehrabian is notorious for personally torturing criminal suspects and opposition supporters arrested following the February 19 presidential election. The opposition paper says the authorities continue to heavily rely on his and other brutish policemen’s services.
Writing in “Haykakan Zhamanak,” journalist Lusine Barseghian, who was assaulted by unknown men this week, reveals what she describes as extensive business assets of several other high-ranking police officers involved in the crackdown on the opposition. “It turns out that our brave police have a very simple reason to be are extremely afraid of regime change: money and huge fortunes which the police elite has managed to make under this regime,” she says.