The Armenian press continues to follow the events unfolding around opposition lawmaker Zaruhi Postanjian, who has been accused by critics at home of ‘insulting the nation’ by posing a ‘scandalous’ question to President Serzh Sarkisian at the plenary session of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg on October 2. In her question the member of the Heritage faction, in particular, described Sarkisian as a chronic gambler and alleged that recently he lost 70 million euros (about $95 million) in a European casino.
“Zhamanak” sees a particularly ‘brutal’ reaction from members of Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “They have not yet called for burning Postanjian at the stake, but a few more days of such rhetoric and this appeal may seem even moderate. HHK members appear to have been competing with each other to see which one of them can defend the honor of Serzh Sarkisian with particular brutality,” the paper comments.
The editor of “Hraparak” expects the scandal around Postanjian’s act in Strasbourg to go on for days and include ‘rumbles’ at various levels and in various groups. “First, some government loyalists talked about their plans to meet Postanjian at the airport with ‘eggs and tomatoes’ and her supporters decided to meet her with flowers and applause. Then the phase of seeking those to blame and demanding explanations will begin. The authorities will demand an explanation from HHK members about how it became possible for the Heritage representative to have the floor at the PACE and pose such a question to the president. But the most heated debate, in my opinion, will unfold within Heritage, where they are likely to demand an account from Postanjjan. At least, this is what the behavior of some members of this party in recent days prompts.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” doubts that Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian will act on his promise to expel Postanjian from Armenia’s delegation to the PACE, writing that as of Friday he still had not sent a formal letter to the Heritage faction regarding the matter, something that he was to have done under the National Assembly regulations. “While the parliament speaker was considering a strategy of getting out of the situation created after his statement, the Heritage party issued a statement condemning the political persecution that it said had been launched against Postanjian,” writes the paper.
In an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar” Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hermine Naghdalian referred to reactions on social networking websites and in personal contacts as more proof that the public does not accept what Postanjian did at the PACE. “People feel humiliated, they feel as if their country and state have been insulted and condemn this move,” the senior HHK member told the paper.
“168 Zham” cites sources close to diplomatic circles as saying that despite publicly denying Russian pressure in the matter of joining the Customs Union, the Armenian authorities do not make a secret of it in their contacts with European officials: “During his meetings with European diplomats and officials Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has urged them not to treat Armenia strictly because of its decision to join the Customs Union. And while this appeal is natural, the same cannot be said about its justification. The thing is that the Armenian authorities ask the Europeans not to turn away from Armenia, at the same time threatening that if they do, Armenia will have ultimately and irreversibly come under Russia’s control. And while officials have said publicly that there has been no pressure on the part of Russia in the matter of the country’s accession to the Customs Union, during his meetings with Europeans Nalbandian divulges every detail of the Russian pressure and the tragic consequences of opposing it. These steps have only one aim – to get the Europeans to sign at least some kind of symbolic document at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November, so that at least at the propaganda level the Armenian government could state that its policy of ‘and-and’ continues.”