(Saturday, March 26)
Interviewed by “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Gagik Jahangirian, a leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), underlines the significance of the March 17 “liberation” of Yerevan’s Liberty Square by thousands of supporters of the opposition alliance. “And we liberated it without any incident, without any clash with the police. The number of people, their energy, enthusiasm were so great, so powerful that that no police force could have used force. And if they had, nobody could predict consequences of that.”
“This is the reason why there is a sense among some our supporters that that the opposition entry into Liberty Square was the result of an agreement with the authorities. If I use a military terminology, I can say that we occupied the citadel of the enemy, the regime, and that caused panic within the authorities,” claims Jahangirian.
“Aravot” carries a scathing commentary on HAK leaders’ claims that President Serzh Sarkisian and his government will immediately stand down if 200,000 people take to the streets of Yerevan. “After that, there will be a need to build a free and proud homeland,” its editor-in-chief Aram Abrahamian writes. “I want to make my little contribution to that and make a suggestion. One must bring to task those who won’t take to the streets and participate in the popular movement with their throats. In a new and democratic Armenia, that norm must be enshrined in law, through amendments to the Criminal Code … Those who were skeptical and expressed doubts about the movement’s victory must be sentenced to five years in prison.”
Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), tells “168 Zham” that Armenia’s president, government and other state bodies usually bear more or less equal responsibility for various government policies. Hovannisian also defends his party’s reluctance to push for snap elections. “That’s not a soft position, that’s a practical position,” says Hovannisian. “We are realists. We realize very well that we may not get to see the changes which we want but we must ensure that they eventually come about. And there is no guarantee that we would achieve them with rallies and other destabilizing actions.”
“Yerkir” contends that what changed “the rules of the game” in the Armenian political arena was President Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey, rather than the HAK’s recent activities. “Everything returned to normal the moment Dashnaktsutyun left the [ruling] coalition and Levon Ter-Petrosian rushed to declare that he is suspending rallies,” writes the Dashnaktsutyun-controlled daily.