(Saturday, December 19)
“168 Zham” is unhappy with the fact that the Armenian trial of Valery Permyakov, a Russian soldier charged in last January’s massacre of a family in Gyumri, is taking place in the premises of the local Russian military base. The paper says that the makeshift courtroom opened there is not only inconvenient for hearings but also “symbolizes Russia’s attitude towards the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people.” It accuses of Moscow “trampling Armenians’ national dignity” through such an unusual arrangement.
“Hraparak” also deplores the venue of the trial, saying that Permyakov will feel “more protected” within the Russian base headquarters. “A Shirak court judge, Harutyun Movsisian, had to go to the base to preside over the trial,” writes the paper.
“Zhamanak” reports that President Serzh Sarkisian held a meeting with senior government and military officials at the Armenian Defense Ministry compound in Yerevan ahead of his meeting in Switzerland with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. The paper considers this fact to be “quite telling.” “All experts agree that the Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting will not produce a breakthrough, even though it is necessary for easing tension on the frontlines,” it says.
“Zhoghovurd” comments on the failure by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) to collect enough signatures in the National Assembly needed for appealing to the Constitutional Court against the official results of the December 6 constitutional referendum. The paper notes that the court has never backed such appeals lodged after elections and referendums held in the past. This time, it says, the HAK did not even manage to force court hearings on the matter.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the average price of gasoline in Armenia has fallen by less than 5 percent in the last six months despite a nearly 50 percent drop in the cost of oil in the world markets. The paper believes that this huge disparity highlights the continuing monopolization of oil imports to Armenia by a handful of government-linked businesspeople.