(Saturday, September 21)
Several Armenian newspapers carry front-page photographs of Tigran Arakelian, an opposition activist controversially jailed over two years ago, and demand his immediate release from prison.
In a commentary on the 22nd anniversary of Armenia’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, “168 Zham” accuses the authorities of “directly trampling Armenia’s sovereignty” with their decision to join the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union. The paper says the past three weeks have probably seen more pro-Russian statements by pro-government politicians and pundits in Yerevan that the previous two decades taken together. “Nevertheless, there are and there will be people in Armenia for whom independence is an irreversible value, unlike a government which has made it a subject of haggling and political forces using that to come to power,” it says.
“We are marking the 22nd anniversary at a point from which we had started out,” “Zhamanak” writes grimly. The paper denounces the government for deciding to join what it calls a “Putin-style Soviet Union.” It says that politically active Armenians will not come to terms with that.
But as “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” claims, most Armenians have still not grasped “the main meaning of independence.” “And the main meaning is that independence is first of all responsibility,” the paper explains. “Responsibility for your actions and decisions. Being independent means realizing that from now on you must set objectives which you can achieve only by yourself and without counting on others.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” deplores the first-ever sale of Armenian Eurobonds worth at least $700 million, saying that the government has not explained what this money will be spent on. The paper says that unlike loans provided by the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank this commercial borrowing is not tied to any concrete project and will not be overseen by international institutions. “The proceeds from the Eurobond sale will go straight into the state budget and be spent as budgetary resources,” it says. “And we all know how our budgetary money is spent.”