By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian opposition’s offensive against President Robert Kocharian, triggered by the closure of the independent A1+ television, entered into its fourth week on Friday as several thousand people again marched through the streets of Yerevan to voice their anger.
Representatives of 13 opposition parties that organized the demonstration condemned Thursday’s court ruling upholding the decision by a presidentially appointed commission to strip A1+ of its broadcasting frequency. They alleged that the verdict handed down by the Armenian Economic Court was “ordered” by Kocharian.
“The court has become a blunt instrument with which the regime is trying to justify its crimes,” said a senior member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, Aramazd Zakarian.
Another speaker, Levon Galustian of the Socialist Armenia alliance, claimed that the court’s decision to turn down an A1+ suit against the commission was “the natural result” of Kocharian’s efforts to muzzle critical media that could thwart his reelection bid early next year.
The A1+ staff, which believe that their channel’s closure was politically motivated, welcomed the opposition rally in a written message to its participants. “We are being slowly but steadily deprived of our constitutional rights,” the message said. “But we have always served the people and will always be faithful to our principles.”
Meanwhile, the opposition coalition demanded that Kocharian again ensure the popular channel’s return to the airwaves. They at the same time told the crowd that the problem may not be resolved as long as he stays in power. Hanrapetutyun chairman Albert Bazeyan announced the beginning of a “process of changing the government.”
Kocharian has repeatedly rejected such demands, insisting that he had no involvement in the controversial tender for A1+’s frequency and can not force the commission to overturn its decision.