“Who has violated constitutional order?” “Aravot” asks in an editorial. “When our citizens use their constitutional right to hold peaceful gatherings and demonstrations it amounts [in the government’s view] to a breach of constitutional order for which they must be punished. This is what our authorities think.” The paper points out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently vetoed a government bill on public gatherings, saying that it would restrict on Russians’ freedom of assembly. It also cites Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer’s concerns about an “anti-democratic decline” in Armenia. “Mr. Schwimmer had to remind that in democracies people have the right to come together and present their views even if those carry criticism of the president and the government.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” continues to express outrage at the beating of its two reporters by police officers. The paper says police threatened and insulted journalists late Wednesday while they towed away cars belonging to leaders of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party. “There are many honest, clever and conscious people in the police,” it says, adding that they are not the ones who hold sway in the law-enforcement agency. The Armenian police, according to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” are run by individuals who “perceive the life with a jackal’s instincts and whose only characteristics is insult.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the “bubble of democratic revolution” blown by the opposition has burst irreversibly. “It could not have been otherwise,” the paper says. It at the same time warns that the authorities will risk losing the battle with the opposition unless they enforce “justice.” This must involve a strict code of ethics for senior government officials and their relatives. “The state must protect the society from the purely Asian impudence of wealthy entrepreneurs turning economic might into unequal rights and their family members. Also extremely important is the implementation of concrete, clear-cut and coordinated steps aimed at restoring justice and fighting against corruption.”
“Azg” notes that the opposition could have attracted larger crowds if it had put greater emphasis on socioeconomic issues. The paper also says the opposition protests have shown that that rosy macroeconomic figures cited by the authorities “have nothing to do with the living standards of Armenian society.” Kocharian’s victory in the first clash with the opposition was “dubious,” it concludes.
In an interview with “Golos Armenii,” Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian says he does not think that Armenia’s international prestige will suffer from the unrest because “everything was within the framework of the law.” “On the contrary, nobody would have understood us if two thousand people had paralyzed all Yerevan.” But, Sarkisian adds, the Armenian government must “draw conclusions” from what happened. “We must take a new look at our work, must try to ensure that progress is more evident and tangible.”