“Hayots Ashkhar” says opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian opened a new page in the history of Yerevan’s Liberty Square when he began a hunger strike there on March 15, two days before Levon Ter-Petrosian rallied supporters in the same location. The pro-government paper says the square’s main significance these days is that it is exposing the true nature of relationships between Armenian opposition leaders. “In short, the start of the modern history of the square has been wonderful: from hunger to dancing and singing,” it concludes with sarcasm.
“Zhamanak” predicts that Armenian politics will be dominated by three rival camps in the months ahead: the authorities, Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and a “third pole” taking shape now. The paper claims that the latter will bring together Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Tigran Karapetian’s People’s Party. “That is probably in the government’s interests because … in Armenia there is no government system that would dare to stay alone vis-à-vis a strong opposition,” it says. “That is why the authorities … will try to bring in a third party into play.”
“Yerkir” reports on fraud allegations that marred a weekend mayoral election in Armavir, a town 40 kilometers southwest of Yerevan. The paper says that the vote followed “a disgraceful pattern that has been customary in Armenia since 1995.” “These elections once again proved that the authorities do not go beyond making statements on the need for fair elections,” it says. “The Armavir elections were a great opportunity [for the authorities] to prove words with actions. But this opportunity too was missed.”
The Dashnaktsutyun-linked daily also complains that the radical opposition is doing nothing to “turn the rally euphoria into electoral mechanisms.” “This course of events leaves no hope that we will have a normal election and, more importantly, a civilized post-election process next year,” concludes “Yerkir.”
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” criticizes the Armenian government for discontinuing the publication of full macroeconomic statistics, including the rates of economic growth, on a monthly basis. “The authorities have decided to publicize instead an index of economic activity,” writes the pro-HAK paper. “Naturally, nobody understands what that means. But in any case, it sounds nice.”