“Yerkir” believes that with its threats of sanctions the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has made if harder for the Armenian authorities to declare a general amnesty for the arrested oppositionists. The paper says that by dropping the charges against seven opposition figures who go on trial Friday the authorities would effectively admit that Armenia’s judicial branch is flawed and susceptible to external pressure.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” carries an interview with Hovannes Hovannisian, the leader of the opposition Liberal Party who used to head the Armenian delegation at the PACE. Hovannisian sounds a cautious note about the PACE Monitoring Committee’s latest decision to recommend sanctions against Armenia, saying that he is not sure the Council of Europe has taken a harder liner on the Armenian authorities. Hovannisian also says that the actions of the Council of Europe are usually coordinated with those of the European Union and even the United States. “So we must accept that a decision by the PACE is a decision by the international community,” he says.
“The Armenian authorities have distorted the truth right from the beginning and they have done so very subtly,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “For example, the head of our delegation at the PACE, David Harutiunian, makes the following statement: ‘At the end of the day, we must realize that even though the delegation’s voting rights are being suspended, that is an evaluation of the country’s, not the delegation’s, performance.’ For his part, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian calls that proposal ‘not favorable’ for Armenia. They both distort reality. That is an evaluation of Armenia’s leadership, rather than the country.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” laments that division lines in Armenian politics have become blurred. “Where is the past clear classification of politicians into pro-Russian and pro-Western ones, nationalists and cosmopolites, class enemies and class friends, and, finally, men and women?” asks the paper. Fortunately, it says, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s attempt to stage a “revolution” in the country ended in failure. “Revolution is an epidemic,” adds the paper. “Any revolution of any color. One must beware it the way people bewared the plague in the Middle Age.”
“Aravot” sees a lack of legalistic clarity in the accusations of organizing “mass disturbances” and “usurping state power” used by the authorities in their crackdown on the opposition. The paper believes that the coup accusation can be easily used for prosecuting anyone who exercises their freedom of speech.