“168 Zham” says that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit completed “the process of humiliation of Armenia’s sovereignty” that began on September 3 with the announcement of President Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to join the Russian-led customs union. The paper says that by starting the trip from Gyumri, the principal site of a Russian military base, Putin demonstrated “where Armenia’s significance begins and ends for him.”
“Yesterday Armenia lived a full-fledged life of a Russian province,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” writes grimly. “The situation in Gyumri … was just like it is in remote Russian towns visited by Putin. The streets through which the [Russian] tsar’s motorcade drives were paved, the buildings lining them are washed and the sidewalks cleaned. But everything beyond those streets looks like ruins.”
“Hraparak” says that the Armenian authorities did not even dare to show Putin that Armenia’s alliance with Russia should not be taken for granted. The paper believes that they should have allowed several hundred civic activists to protest against Armenian membership in the customs union. “This would have been possible had our authorities not lost their last vestiges of national dignity and last reserves of prudence,” it says, condemning the mass detentions of anti-Putin protesters.
“Aravot” finds ironic and symbolic the fact that one of the detainees held a poster saying “Sovereign Armenia.” “Are our police thus saying that there is no absolute sovereignty in the world, that all countries, including superpowers, have to cede their sovereignty?” asks the paper. It is worried that the detentions were a taste of things to come after Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led union.
“Hayots Ashkhar,” meanwhile, accuses the anti-government activists of trying to “spoil the visit of the president of a friendly country.” The pro-government paper quotes Artak Davtian, a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), as adding his voice to this criticism. “Of course, such extreme manifestations do not do anybody a favor,” he says. Davtian goes on to stress the importance of the visit to Armenia by “one of the world’s most charismatic leaders.” “It is not accidental that some Western analysts and political scientists mention Putin with some unhidden envy, comparing him to Charles de Gaulle and other statesmen of united Europe” he says. “Not to mention the fact that our security system is closely connected to Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Do those people [anti-Putin protesters] realize where they would have been if our strategic ally … had not helped to maintain the military balance in the region.”