(Saturday, August 8)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes that loyalists of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and former Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian have “visibly become more active of late” in response to controversial constitutional changes planned by President Serzh Sarkisian. “Before this constitutional reform fuss they did not know what to say, to do or to write,” writes the paper. “And as always, Serzh Sarkisian has saved them from a deep oblivion by circulating that stupid document.” It dismisses threats by Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and like-minded opposition groups to scuttle the reform and even topple Sarkisian with street protests. It also denounces their verbal attacks on other opposition figures, notably Nikol Pashinian, who disagree with them.
Sos Gimishian, a veteran opposition politician, adds his voice to opposition criticism of the constitutional reform, in an interview with “Hraparak.” “It is better to put up with a perpetual rule of Serzh Sarkisian and his HHK than this [draft] constitution [proposed by them,]” says Gimishian. In a particular, he is unhappy with a draft amendment that would abolish a constitutional provision guaranteeing a “special role” for the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Lragir.am scoffs at Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s calls for government officials to do a better job of communicating the government’s “positive” economic statistics to the public. “It is hard to tell what positive data he is talking about,” comments the online publication. “The National Statistical Service reported the other day that just about everything in Armenia has decreased this year, including retail trade, foreign trade, incoming cash remittances and tax revenues. On top of that, the international policy of isolating Russia has not eased. Instead, oil prices have fallen further, meaning that the Russian economy … will continue to shrink.”
The publication claims that Abrahamian is now desperate to end his political isolation. “A very peculiar reality has emerged for Abrahamian,” it says. “Generally speaking, nobody subjects him to harsh criticism these days. But people don’t do that not because they have hopes about his performance or see no political purpose. Hovik Abrahamian has simply been left to collapse on his own. Political expediency requires his slow decline.”