Armenian newspapers criticize police for using what they believe was excessive force against dozens of people who demonstrated in Yerevan on Monday against a 10 percent rise in electricity prices sanctioned by state regulators.
“Zhamanak” says that the protest was too small to threaten the ruling regime’s hold on power. The paper claims that the “brutal” police actions were aimed at intimidating all Armenians critical of their government. It says the authorities also responded to former President Robert Kocharian, who voiced support earlier on Monday for the Armenian opposition’s 12 demands addressed to President Serzh Sarkisian.
“Aravot” sees “alarming signs” that civil liberties in Armenia may decline as a result of Sarkisian’s frantic efforts to make it part of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of three authoritarian states: Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. “Yesterday’s protest by citizens was peaceful,” editorializes the paper. “They did not interfere with anyone. They did not violate other people’s rights. The police actions were therefore disproportionate.”
“Who is the target are the protest actions against pension reform, parking rules or electricity price hikes?” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “Of course the government. And to whom are the police subordinate? To the president, not the government. So only the presidential administration could have issued an order to overrun the protesters. The only possible result of these actions is that civic movements will become even stronger and the public struggle against the government will get tougher … This means that Serzh Sarkisian is trying to restore his positions in the government system, which have been a bit shaky of late, and, as always, he is relying on the police. He simply has no other support base right now. Even the [ruling] HHK is not quite reliable.”
“Zhoghovurd” notes that in his latest public statement Kocharian largely endorsed the common agenda of the four main political parties challenging the Sarkisian administration. The paper says that Kocharian has not yet officially announced his return to politics only because his positions are still not strong enough. “But he has already decided to make a political comeback and is simply waiting for a favorable moment,” it says.