(Saturday, October 18)
“168 Zham” condemns prison sentences that were given on Friday to 12 activists who took part in a violent anti-government demonstration in Yerevan a year ago. “These sentences once again showed the real face of Armenia,” writes the paper. “With these sentences the Armenian authorities demonstrated that they deserve to stand alongside the [Eurasian Union] countries led by [Vladimir] Putin, [Nursultan] Nazarbayev and [Aleksandr] Lukashenko.”
“Zhamanak” says that the jail terms given by a court in Yerevan amounted to a “verdict against the Republic of Armenia.” The paper warns that the authorities will face more such “revolution” attempts if they fail to “draw conclusions” regarding the state of affairs in the country. It says that a repeat of the kind of street protest which landed Shant Harutiunian and his supporters in jail would have “more severe consequences for all.”
“We all must be interested in not seeing such things happen in our streets regardless of whether their organizers have political or other motives,” editorializes “Aravot.” The paper agrees that the prison sentences given to the 12 men are disproportionately harsh. It is even more critical of a 4-year suspended sentence that was given to Harutiunian’s 15-year-old son Shahen. But it insists that the high-profile criminal case does not prove opposition allegations that Armenia is a dictatorship. “Opposition parties do not control TV stations in a dictatorship,” argues the paper. “The opposition cannot hold massive demonstrations in a dictatorship. Millionaires do not deliver anti-government speeches under dictatorial regimes … Having said that, Armenia is definitely not a democratic country either.”
“Zhoghovurd” says that President Serzh Sarkisian will earn political dividends even if he is forced by the opposition not to amend the Armenian constitution. The paper says that Sarkisian can always find a good excuse for doing that.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” comments on a statement by the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party condemning Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The paper says that media outlets close to the Armenian government are exploiting that statement to show that there are serious differences between Zharangutyun and two other major parties challenging Sarkisian. It insists that there is no contradiction between Zharangutyun’s stance and Armenian National Congress leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s claims Armenia’s entry to the EEU is “irreversible.”