(Saturday, February 15)
“Zhoghovurd” condemns the dismissal of three employees of the Yerevan metro who took part in a demonstration against pension reform. The paper cites articles of the Armenian Criminal Code that make it a crime to punish citizens for taking part in peaceful rallies and strikes.
“168 Zham” says the Armenian authorities are already “mentally” part of the Russian-led customs and Eurasian unions, which it calls an “ex-Soviet authoritarian club.” The paper points to President Serzh Sarkisian’s Friday visit to the Ministry for Urban Development during which he dismissed as “disinformation” warnings that membership of the Customs Union will result in severe price hikes in Armenia. It recalls that just a year ago Sarkisian described as “slander” reports that the price of Russian gas for Armenia has increased. The price rise was officially confirmed several weeks later.
“Hraparak” reacts to Sarkisian’s remarks about freedom of speech in Armenia. He said that “in this regard Armenia is the leader in the region and not only in the region.” The president at the same time attacked unnamed media outlets that “sling mud at and bad-mouth our work and events in the country all day long.” “If this is how the head of state describes the media then it makes no sense to brag about press freedom because obviously that is not the government’s achievement,” comments the paper. Sarkisian would have long muzzled and jailed journalists critical of him if he had been able to, it claims.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Republican Party (HHK) spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov as scoffing at former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s criticism of Armenia’s ongoing accession to the Customs Union. Sharmazanov argues that the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), of which Oskanian is a senior member, stands for closer ties with Russia. Oskanian’s remarks therefore “once again put BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian in an awkward position.”
“Aravot” condemns the HHK for telling its young members to attack opposition youths that handed out leaflets in Yerevan branding Sarkisian a “traitor.” The paper says that while it disagrees with the damning characterization of the president the assault on the oppositionists was an “even worse” offense.