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Press Review


“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” accuses the Armenian authorities of deliberately botching the criminal investigation into the March 1, 2008 clashes in Yerevan. “But that operation has failed,” says the opposition paper. “The situation has now changed. Robert Kocharian is not president, Hayk Harutiunian is not police chief. If [National Security Service chief] Gorik Hakobian and [Prosecutor-General] Aghvan Hovsepian are also stripped of their posts, it will be possible to start a proper investigation. Or else, a very weird situation would arise. Political prisoners would be set free and it would suddenly emerge that nobody is responsible for the deaths of ten people in the center of Yerevan.”

“Golos Armenii” quotes political expert Hmayak Hovannisian as saying that former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s entourage is doing everything to heighten political tensions in Armenia ahead of the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan. Hovannisian claims Ter-Petrosian associates feel that a repeat of the post-election unrest would bring down the government. He says they will therefore try to force the authorities to take “extreme steps” during the mayoral race. “Having understood that, Raffi Hovannisian washed his hands on time in order to avoid the slightest involvement in this endeavor,” he says.

“Hayots Ashkhar” says that the decision by Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party not to take part in the elections was the result of the heavy-handed tactic of Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK). “Zharangutyun had more modest ambitions,” says the pro-government paper. “It was ready to content itself with having its own faction in the Yerevan Council of Elders and, in case of being confident about the competitiveness of its electoral list, would certainly take part in the elections without the slightest worry that it could thereby harm the opposition cause. In case of joining Levon Ter-Petrosian, Zharangutyun would make a post-election confrontation inevitable by giving the Levonites a carte blanche, as was the case during the [2008] presidential elections.” This is why, suggests the paper, Zharangutyun did not lend its unconditional backing to the HAK.

“Zhamanak” says that the HAK is committed to solely peaceful methods of political struggle and does not respond to government “repressions” with violence. “Such behavior makes the regime nervous, meaning that it carries the potential for winning [the elections] and changing the situation,” claims the paper. “All authoritarian regimes are afraid of elections and this is also true for Armenia.”

“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Shant Harutiunian, one of the seven opposition figures tried on coup charges, continues to be kept incommunicado at a psychiatric clinic in Yerevan where he was taken earlier this month. The paper says his wife Ruzanna Badalian has asked the trial judge, Mnatsakan Martirosian, to allow her to visit Harutiunian. “There is still no information about Shant Harutiunian’s health condition,” it says.

(Aghasi Yenokian)
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