Armenian newspapers actively discuss prominent intellectual Zori Balayan’s open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he called for Nagorno-Karabakh’s incorporation into Russia.
“The beginning of the end,” reads a headline in “168 Zham.” The paper links the letter to President Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to join the Russian-led customs union, saying that it has inspired pro-Russian elements like Balayan who have until now avoided openly expressing their “slave-like” views. It notes that Balayan’s move has been welcomed by a number of other “palace intellectuals.” The authorities remain silent on these statements because these individuals are “catering for a policy whose ultimate goal is to make Armenia and Karabakh part of Russia,” according to “168 Zham.”
“Zhamanak” calls Balayan’s letter a “bad omen.” “The moment is really important, and it is evident that some developments are being plotted in the Karabakh direction,” speculates the paper. It too links the letter to the Armenian foreign policy U-turn.
The key question for “Zhoghovurd” is whether Balayan coordinated the controversial letter with the Armenian government. The paper is worried that it may have been commissioned by President Sarkisian.
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” lashes out at Balayan, accusing him of being a member of a ruling clique that has “plundered” Armenia and Karabakh, sold key economic assets to Russia and ruined the Armenian economy.
“Zori Balayan is a serious public figure who has had many achievements in his life,” Hovannes Sahakian, a senior member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), tells “Iravunk.” “I think that such an individual has the right to publicly express his views. This is a personal view and I don’t think it right to react to it in any way. I can only say that we have our approaches in connection with the Karabakh problem which we have expressed on different occasions.” That means Karabakh should remain an “independent and sovereign republic,” concludes Sahakian.