(Saturday, November 7)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” condemns the Armenian authorities for their refusal to certify that its jailed editor-in-chief, Nikol Pashinian, has resided in Armenia for the past five years and thereby allow him to stand in an upcoming parliamentary by-election. “Being on the run doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular individual did not reside in Armenia during that time,” argues the pro-opposition daily. “In order to make such a claim the police need to specify when and how the fugitive individual left Armenia and when and how he returned.” The paper also argues that Pashinian is not charged with illegally crossing Armenia’s borders.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also cites a police statement wrongly stating that Pashinian fled the country on February 26, 2008. “If that was true, how did they accuse him of organizing mass riots on March 1, 2008?” it asks.
“Zhamanak” reports that the opposition parties aligned in the Armenian National Congress (HAK) expect its top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian, to deliver a “program speech” this week. The paper says Ter-Petrosian is expected to lay out the HAK’s “tactical and strategic tasks.”
“Aravot” republishes the Armenian Helsinki Committee’s written account of human rights abuses that followed Armenia’s September 1996 presidential election that was controversially won by Ter-Petrosian. According to the human rights group, two opposition parliamentarians, Seyran Avagian and Ruben Hakobian, were arrested and tortured before being forced to attend a parliament session on September 26, 1996. Another opposition lawmaker, David Vartanian, was similarly ill-treated in custody by Ter-Petrosian’s chief bodyguard Romen Ghazarian and Mushegh Saghatelian, then a senior police who was jailed for his role in last year’s post-election unrest in Yerevan. Saghatelian claimed to have been tortured during his March 2008 arrest.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that strolling through the center of Yerevan, one does not get the impression that Armenia is in a serious economic crisis. “What crisis?” the paper says with sarcasm. “There is no such thing because the abundance of brand new luxury cars does not seem to be the best indicator of a crisis.”
“Kapital” says that despite a planned fivefold cut in its tourism development expenditures, the Armenian government anticipates an increase in the number of foreigners visiting Armenia next year. The government’s draft budget for 2010 sets side only 25 million drams ($65,000) for that purpose. The paper says Deputy Economy Minister Ara Petrosian commented evasively on the reason for the spending cut.