“Iravunk” predicts that having been “defeated” in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), the Armenian opposition led by Levon Ter-Petrosian will organize a “provocation” on the first anniversary of the March 1 violence in Yerevan. The paper claims that Ter-Petrosian is seeking to provoke new clashes with security forces and “perhaps casualties as well.” “The authorities’ task is becoming more difficult in these circumstances,” it says. “On the one hand, if that provocation occurs, there will be consequences in Strasbourg. On the other, if law-enforcement bodies perform well and arrest all provocateurs in advance that will give rise to a worldwide uproar.”
“Iravunk” adds that although the PACE stop short of punishing the Armenian government its new resolution effectively demands the release of “almost all of those who ended up in jail in connection with March 1.” “That is, they are demanding from the Armenian authorities guarantees of the impunity for [those responsible] March 1,” the paper says, adding that this will only create breeding ground for “new coup attempts.”
That the opposition plans to rally supporters on March 1 is confirmed by one of its representatives, Aram Manukian, in an interview with “Iravunk de facto.” Manukian admits that attendance at the opposition rallies held last summer and fall was weaker than in the aftermath of the February 2008 presidential election. But he says the opposition has won over many other Armenians who “have become convinced in the past few months that the authorities lied to them.” “I am sure that the number of people who oppose the authorities and support us is larger than on March 1,” says Manukian.
“Hraparak” agrees that the authorities remain under strong pressure to free all jailed oppositionists, saying that the Council of Europe does not care how they will ensure that. “What matters is that no person find himself in prison due to his political views,” editorializes the paper. It says the authorities’ continuing refusal to do that means Ter-Petrosian was right to call Armenia’s system of governance “kleptocratic.”
“Azg” reports that two senior aides to parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian on Thursday visited the three opposition deputies arrested following the March 1 unrest. The visit followed the deputies’ demands for an urgent session of the National Assembly to discuss evidence of the crimes allegedly committed by them. The paper says Miasnik Malkhasian, Sasun Mikaelian and Hakob Hakobian were told that Armenian law makes it impossible for Abrahamian to meet their demands.