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“Zhoghovurd” carries an editorial on the start of a new academic year in Armenia’s schools, colleges and universities. The paper notes with alarm that a growing number of schools in remote villages across the country are now facing closure because of a lack of students resulting from an out-migration of local populations.

“Today on September 1, at least 16 rural schools will have no first-grade students,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “We are talking about communities in the Shirak, Syunik and the Aragatsotn provinces.”

“Aravot” says that the Armenian authorities have still not properly investigated “numerous” abuses committed by the police during their two-week standoff with armed members of a radical opposition group, Founding Parliament, that seized a police facility in Yerevan’s Erebuni district in July. The paper suggests that “a lot will change in Armenia if even one police officer is imprisoned for obstructing the work of journalists during those dramatic events.” It predicts that pro-government and opposition deputies will deliver passionate and diametrically opposite speeches on the Erebuni standoff at the upcoming autumn session of the National Assembly. It also claims that opposition attempts to amend Armenia’s controversial Electoral Code will end in failure.

“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” is surprised by an economic downturn that was registered by Armenia’s National Statistical Service (NSS) in July. The paper wonders whether the NSS chief, Stepan Mnatsakanian, thus attempted to defy Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian. In any case, it says, government officials have already blamed the downturn on the April war in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Erebuni hostage crisis which they says have scared away many foreign tourists from Armenia. The pro-opposition daily rejects these explanations.

(Tigran Avetisian)

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