(Saturday, December 20)
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports scathingly on the start of the most high-profile of the trials of Armenian oppositionists arrested following the February presidential election. The paper says opposition supporters inside and outside the courtroom in Yerevan’s Shengavit district launched a psychological attack on the presiding judge, Mnatsakan Martirosian, and trial prosecutors. “The rally inside and outside the court continued throughout the court session,” it says. “Furthermore, during a hearing break [opposition] activists organized a march and walked the central streets of the capital with known slogans.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” sees “huge pressure” exerted by the international community on President Serzh Sarkisian for the release of Armenian “political prisoners.” “Representatives of the [governing] coalition also think that something should be done by January,” says the paper. It says one possible reason why the prisoners have still not been freed is that Sarkisian fears the opposition-supporting people more than the Council of Europe. But he might also need the “trial of the seven” because it will make “extremely serious revelations about details of the crimes committed by the regime on March 1.” “All that will receive a great public resonance, and, more importantly, it will become evident that Robert Kocharian is primarily to blame for what happened,” suggests the paper.
“Golos Armenii” slams the Council of Europe for threatening to impose sanctions on Armenia and accuses it of applying double standards to member states. The pro-government papers says countries like Georgia, France and Greece have not faced such sanctions because their citizens “do not work against their states in international structures.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the decision by the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) to recommend the suspension of the voting rights of the assembly’s Armenian members was “really unexpected.” “Not because there were no grounds for such a proposal,” says the opposition daily. “There are enough grounds for a dozen decisions like that. It’s just that very few people in Armenia believe that the PACE defends principles and many have begun perceiving that structure as a commercial enterprise. And Serzh [Sarkisian] has no equals in the business of trading.” The paper claims that the PACE moved to sanction Yerevan because Sarkisian has “cheated” the West and “played games with Russia” on Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The decision by the PACE Monitoring Committee has aroused exaggerated reactions from Armenia’s government and opposition camps: a deep depression and unfounded euphoria respectively,” editorializes “Aravot.” “The opposition stance is absolutely understandable. That decision is a great opportunity to declare that the international community has at last realized the anti-popular nature of the Armenian authorities. But more noteworthy are arguments with which the authorities console themselves. There two such arguments: a) the Europeans are mainly guided by double standards … and b) the international structures are using our internal problems to put pressure over Karabakh and relations with Turkey.”