But “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” suggests that Hovannisian simply wants to boost Zharangutyun’s approval ratings by being “at the center of public attention for several days.” “The PR action can be considered a success,” writes the pro-HAK paper. “But will that action benefit the state and the people? Of course, it will not. Raffi Hovannisian has not even put forward concrete demands to the authorities. He could have, for example, demanded the release of the political prisoners. On the other hand, his action does not damage [Ter-Petrosian’s] popular movement or the authorities at all.”
“Zhamanak” says the authorities are behaving “rather equivocally” ahead of the HAK’s rally. “On the one hand, Serzh Sarkisian has made overtures to the Armenian National Congress,” says the paper. “Of course, they are not directly addressed to the Congress, but they are quite obvious overtures. On the other hand, the police have arrested Congress supporter Samson Khachatrian will quite a bit of noise … Thus, the authorities are showing the opposition both a stick and a carrot ahead of March 17.” The regime has not acted like that before, concludes the paper.
Aram Sarkisian, a leading HAK member, tells “Hraparak” that the president’s statements were aimed at reducing attendance at the upcoming antigovernment demonstration. “They saw that by closing roads, suppressing [opposition activity] they are unable to stop the flow of people to the rallies and switched to other tactical methods,” he says. “One must not forget that Serzh Sarkisian used to be a minister of national security and understands the methods of action and counteraction very well.”
Giro Manoyan, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), tells “Kapital” that with its reluctance to formally annul the Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements Yerevan enables Ankara to “resuscitate” them at any moment. “We believe that those protocols must finally be removed from Armenia’s foreign policy agenda,” he says, adding that the international community now agrees that Turkey is to blame for their non-implementation.