(Saturday, March 16)
“168 Zham” says that opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian’s March 15 rally in Yerevan’s Liberty Square failed to mark a “breakthrough” in his post-election campaign of street protests. The paper believes that the rally lacked both enough people and “energy.” “Raffi has not yet found the formula for turning a wave of protests … into a political struggle,” it says. “The most unfortunate thing is that in looking for that formula he depletes not only the faith and expectations of thousands of people but also his health.”
Artak Davtian, a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that Liberty Square is “not the most convenient place” for a possible meeting between Hovannisian and President Serzh Sarkisian. At the same time he says that in principle the venue for such dialogue is not the most important thing.
Paruyr Hayrikian, another former presidential candidate, questions the wisdom of Hovannisian’s continuing hunger strike, in an interview with “Zhamanak.” “As a means for political struggle, a hunger strike has never made a difference in the world,” he says.
“Hraparak” says President Serzh Sarkisian’s latest trip to Russia, the first since his reelection, should have generated more anti-Russian and pro-Western sentiment in Armenia. However, strong pro-Sarkisian statements made by the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), Wilfried Martens, on Friday make the paper think that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a lesser evil.” “His evaluations of the [Armenian] opposition leader, his sarcasm addressed to a candidate who got over 500,000 votes and belief in the fairness of the elections is bewildering, to say the least,” it says in an editorial.
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” says Hovannisian “has remained alone” in the opposition camp. “He thought that everybody should rally around his axis but such a prospect did not make any [opposition] force enthusiastic,” writes the paper. “The main apparent reason for that is that political forces did not clearly understand in what direction that axis will be moving. As a result, we have what we have: a de facto election winner who has hone on hunger strike in Liberty Square, a fairly week campaign of rallies, a Serzh Sarkisian who has received international legitimacy, complete uncertainty in all areas and upcoming mayoral elections in Yerevan that hold no promise at all because the opposition has failed to unite.”