Artsvik Minasian, a parliament deputy from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), tells “Yerkir” that Armenia’s Criminal Code must set punishment for organizers of mass riots that result in casualties. Minasian also believes that the code should differentiate between rioters who committed violent acts and those who did not.
In an interview with “Aravot,” opposition politician Hovannes Igitian dismisses the draft amendments to the Criminal Code which the authorities promised to enact during the recent session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. “It is evident that these changes were only needed for the authorities,” says Igitian, adding that the amended articles would only make it easier for the government to stifle freedom of expression.
Another well-known oppositionist, Artak Zeynalian, tells “Zhamanak” that the authorities are doing nothing to heal the wounds inflicted on the country on March 1 2008. “Even people in the opposite camp say in private conversations that nothing is being done in that direction,” says Zeynalian. He claims that unlike the authorities, the Armenian opposition is doing all it can do overcome political “intolerance.” “The authorities must free all political prisoners not by ‘pardoning’ but acquitting them,” adds Zeynalian. “I think that wouldn’t be viewed as a display of weakness. We are not hostile towards them.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” accuses former President Levon Ter-Petrosian of keeping “combat-ready gangs, rather than an army” during his rule. The pro-government paper says the Armenian army is now much stronger than it was under Ter-Petrosian. “Whatever has happened in the country from February 1998 through February 2009 is seen by [Ter-Petrosian loyalists] as a coup d’etat,” it says.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports on “panic” observed at currency exchange shops across Yerevan on Thursday morning. “The dollar was on sale for 309 drams, while all those shops that set a lower price were saying that they have no dollars,” says the paper. It believes that the pro-opposition press can not be blamed for widespread expectations of a depreciation of the national currency, the dram.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the private printing house Gind on Friday refused to publish opposition daily “Hayk” because of its debts exceeding more than 2 million drams ($6,500). The paper says the editorial staff of “Hayk” promised to repay the debt by April. It says they have now decided to find another printer, while informing Gind that “they do not renounce the debt.” Nonetheless, Gind warned the paper on Thursday that if the payment is not made by February 20 the company will take it to court.