(Saturday, November 13)
“Hraparak” editorializes on the alleged assault on Nikol Pashinian, the imprisoned “Haykakan Zhamanak” editor and opposition leader. “How can we come to terms with the fact that a newspaper, an individual who did not commit a crime, remains in prison and the society is only demanding that they don’t beat him?” writes the paper. It condemns the human rights ombudsman, Armen Harutiunian, for not taking Pashinian’s allegations at face value.
“Aravot” similarly dismisses Justice Ministry assurances that Pashinian was not ill-treated in the Kosh prison. The paper notes that the oppositionist has to share his prison cell with 18 other inmates, something which “reminds us of the Stalin GULAG.” It says this alone proves that Armenia does not honor its membership obligations to the Council of Europe. The paper adds that prison overcrowding is widespread in Armenia, with inmates taking turns to sleep at night. “The impression is that the journalist/political prisoner was deliberately put in such conditions so that … violence can be applied to Pashinian in that chaos,” it claims.
“Hayots Ashkhar” wonders how the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) will go about motivating supporters now. “With rallies, marches, pickets, the leader’s speeches, political prisoners -- the rotten weapons remaining in the Congress’ arsenal?” says the paper. “Therefore, all they can do is to move forward with big steps and shout ‘pre-term elections’ and participate in the ‘worst-case scenario’ (the 2012 parliamentary elections). The radical Congress is moving in that direction.”
Matthew Clements, a senior analyst with the London-based Jane’s Information Group, tells “Zhamanak” that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are “very unlikely” to sign a peace accord or a “roadmap” agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh at the upcoming OSCE summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. Clements the conflicting parties have been far apart on some of the key issues and continue to trade insults and accusations. “Azerbaijan is making particularly aggressive statements to the effect that it can resolve the conflict by military means,” he says. “A compilation of many facts gives me no reason to hope that any document can be signed at Astana,” adds the British analyst.
According to Clements, the West understands that Russia will remain “the strongest player in the South Caucasus” in the foreseeable future. “Things are difficult for the U.S. because it is geographically far away from the region,” he is quoted as saying. “Only Turkey can play a major role here.” Ankara will “significantly change the balance of forces in the region” if it opens the Turkish-Armenian border, Clements says.