“Haykakan Zhamanak” welcomes street protests against the sharp rise in public transport fares in Yerevan, saying that it has spawned a “totally new” type of civic movement. “This movement was not initiated by any political force or grouping,” argues the paper. “Nor is it directed by anyone. This is a spontaneous movement of active and mostly young citizens which has achieved major successes within several days.” The paper says the Armenian police are failing to intimidate these activists.
“Zhamanak” says the protests are gaining momentum and involving more and more prominent individuals. The most encouraging thing for the paper is the participation of young and enthusiastic people in the campaign. The danger is, it says, that they could be discredited by growing rumors that the movement is used and manipulated by the authorities.
“This is an interesting moment and noteworthy fact,” “Hayots Ashkhar” writes in a commentary on the protests. “It could have and is already having an effect of chain reaction. This is a very serious signal to the authorities and especially the executive branch to the effect that they must press the brakes. A series of price hikes, whose effects on family budgets are have not yet been fully felt by citizens, could not have generated anything other than discontent.” The paper says the price hikes are all the more painful given the fact that they are not the result of faster economic growth and rising incomes.
“Hraparak” says the country’s political leadership does not seem worried about the socioeconomic situation as evidenced by summer vacations announced by President Serzh Sarkisian and parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian. “They are apparently confident that Vova (Vladimir Gasparian, the Armenian police chief) will sort out everything before their return,” speculates the paper. It says activists and their relatives could therefore be subjected to threats and intimidation in the coming days. “We have too many precedents of this kind,” it says.
“It is evident that this price hike does not solve the issues of quality and safety,” writes “Orakarg.” “Citizens are offered to ride in unsafe and inconvenient means of transport that now cost 50 percent more.”