“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments that the Armenian authorities have arrested scores of ordinary participants of opposition rallies, not their organizers, because “they have realized that their number one political rival is the public, the people, the citizens.” For without public support the opposition leaders would be unable to threaten the regime’s grip on power. The people are thus left with no option but “to go underground,” the paper says.
“Orran” quotes a senior police officer, Hovannes Varian, as saying that the authorities will not allow opposition supporters to take to the streets of Yerevan during President Kocharian’s inauguration scheduled for April 9. “In a manner defined by the law, we will not allow them to disrupt order or yell,” Varian says. “Yelling is a disruption of public order,” he adds. “We will not let them gather. There are some state ceremonies during which it is inadmissible to allow ugly incidents.”
A weekly opinion poll published in “Aravot” indicates a growing number of Yerevan residents undecided about whom to support in next month’s parliamentary elections. According to the poll, Stepan Demirchian’s Artarutyun (Justice) bloc remains by far the most popular political force, while the Republican Party (HHK) of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has only 4 percent support.
“Yerkir” plays down differences among political groups supporting Kocharian. “Each of them can contest the parliamentary elections on its own by emphasizing its approaches,” the paper argues. “That is not a disagreement, let alone an indicator of feud. That is a healthy competition which benefits everyone -- the political forces, the state and the society.” The paper says speculation that the pro-Kocharian parties will go for each other’s throats is an opposition “trick” aimed at “creating artificial problems in areas where there aren’t any.”
“Yerkir” also attacks Deputy Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian for his reported meddling in politics. The paper says some election candidates across Armenia are known to be sponsored by Hovsepian. There is “a whole list” of such candidates. “Aghvan Hovsepian is saving no effort to clear his protégés way to the parliament. In particular, he let it be known to Rubik Karapetian, the director of the state social security fund in Aragatsotn who is running in the [electoral district] number 20, this week that he had better withdraw his candidacy if he does not want the deputy prosecutor-general to personally deal with him. Mr. Hovsepian’s superiors must explain to him that it is inadmissible to simultaneously engage in justice and politics.”