(Saturday, September 29)
“Zhamanak” tries to explain why Vazgen Khachikian, the former head of Armenia’s state pension fund, was arrested and charged with corruption about two years after his sacking. “Khachikian was probably saved for a pre-election show,” suggests the paper. It notes that President Serzh Sarkisian mentioned Khachikian in his public criticism of the government voiced about two weeks ago. Sarkisian also instructed law-enforcement bodies to go after high-ranking officials handling procurement contracts. “Undoubtedly, Khachikian is no big fish,” comments the paper. “One should therefore expect more arrests.”
“Hraparak” also points out that Sarkisian “recalled” Khachikian at that cabinet meeting. “The reason for that remembrance remained unclear,” comments the paper, arguing that there have been no newly discovered abuses in the payment of pensions and other state benefits. “Nor has Khachikian committed a new crime,” it says. “Some people were yesterday happy that justice has prevailed at last. But we see no cause for joy. This affair shows that it is the will of the monarch, rather than the law, which works in Armenia.”
“I never quite liked Vartan Oskanian’s activities before he became an oppositionist,” “Aravot” editor Aram Abrahamian writes in a front-page comment. “If he was such a convinced democrat then why didn’t he speak up when elections were rigged, when oppositionists were thrown in jail and tortured and when A1+ was closed? And why did he rush to sack diplomats who very mildly stated that the 2008 elections should be fair?” Abrahamian says that Oskanian is also responsible for the March 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan. “But these are Mr. Oskanian’s political sins for which he must be accountable to the society, rather than the law,” he adds.
Vladimir Gasparian, the chief of the Armenian police, tells “Zhoghovurd” that he is forcing wealthy and government-linked businessmen to seriously limit their use of notoriously unruly bodyguards. He says that he noticed on Friday one such businessman riding in a motorcade of four cars in Yerevan. “All of them are now here at the police,” says Gasparian. “There might still be such things, but little by little we are eliminating this phenomenon. I won’t allow that … I’m doing this for my children.”