“Zhamanak” is surprised that the Armenian government did not oppose the holding in Yerevan of the annual conference of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “The authorities apparently calculated that the conduct of such a conference in Yerevan could amount to international recognition of a satisfactory state of human rights protection in Armenia, which would increase their legitimacy and prestige,” writes the paper. “But what happened was unexpected. Virtually all participants of the conference led by the FIDH chairwoman, Souhayr Belhassen, yesterday participated in the opposition rally.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” accuses the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and its leader Levon Ter-Petrosian of hijacking the FIDH conference. “Several thousand people are hysterically claiming that there is no freedom of speech,” says the paper. “Several thousand people are wandering the streets of central Yerevan and screaming, ‘Please help us, we are persecuted.’ Things are probably just like that in a dictatorship.”
Vazgen Karakhanian, a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that there are no political prisoners in Armenia. “I remember political prisoners during Soviet years,” he says. “What is a political prisoner? Now that we have an independent state, I frankly don’t understand what being a political prisoner is all about. There may be discontent with the authorities, people’s attitudes, the regime and lots of other things which we also have. But think the concept of political prisoner needs to be clarified.”
Victor Dallakian, an independent parliamentarian thought to be loyal to President Serzh Sarkisian, attacks former President Robert Kocharian in an interview with “Aravot.” Dallakian says that Kocharian has mortal sins that do not give him the right to return to government. “We must rid Armenia of Kocharian’s specter once and for all,” he says. Dallakian also says that the deadly clashes in Yerevan in March 2008 prevented “real reforms” in Armenia and a less confrontational relation between its government and main opposition force led by Ter-Petrosian.
“Kocharian hoped that with [the events of] March 1, a possible intra-government conspiracy and nationalist, social and other slogans he will make sure that pro-Kocharian deputies back him at the right moment,” adds Dallakian. “I think this was Kocharian’s calculation … But his calculation did not take into account the fact that Sarkisian is a fighter and not a weak successor expected by Kocharian.”
“Kapital” quotes a top executive of Russia’s Gazprom gas monopoly as saying on Tuesday that Armenia still receives Russian gas at a concessional price. “Like Russia, Armenia can not stay in the same place all the time and should switch to a profitable price of the gas,” Anatoly Podmyshalsky said.