“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian government made on Thursday what it says is “yet another decision complicating the holding of demonstrations” in the country. The cabinet approved a list of buildings and squares where public gatherings will be illegal without a government permission. Those include the traditional venues for opposition rallies in Yerevan. “This once again shows that the authorities are after all not confident about their ability to maintain internal stability and are looking for new resources to achieve this goal,” the paper comments.
“To guard against opposition rallies. This is the purpose of the list of ‘the most important locations’ approved by the government,” agrees “Aravot.” The paper reminds that Armenia’s new law on public gatherings, which serves as the legal basis for such decisions, has been criticized by European democracy watchdogs and that the authorities promised to amend it. But what they have actually done is just the opposite, it concludes.
“Aravot” quotes Alvina Gyulumian, the Armenian judge of the European Court of Human Rights, as saying that the Strasbourg-based body has received 104 lawsuits from Armenian citizens and refused to consider half of them. Gyulumian told a seminar on Thursday that the Strasbourg court “expects a response from the Armenian state in connection with A1+ [television] and an administrative punishment handed down in a separate political case.” She said the court could open hearings on these cases early next year.
A leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Levon Mkrtchian, tells “Iravunk” that his party is not helping a candidate from its coalition partner, the Orinats Yerkir Party, win Sunday’s parliamentary by-election in the single-mandate constituency No. 44. “The coalition did not discuss the issue. Orinats Yerkir apparently did not need to raise the issue with the coalition,” Mkrtchian says.
The main Orinats Yerkir challenger in the race, businessman Arayik Hayrapetian, complains to “Hayots Ashkhar” about a government support for his opponent. He says the constituency north of Yerevan must not turn into an exclusive zone of Orinats Yerkir influence.
In an interview with “Iravunk,” the prominent Armenian poetess Silva Kaputikian, who has denounced President Robert Kocharian’s spring crackdown on the opposition, confirms reports that she was snubbed by the government organizers of this month’s Armenia-Diaspora cultural festival. Kaputikian says the festival named “One Nation, One Culture” was little more than a formality. “The very fact that the festival organizers succeeded in whisking away the president of our republic from the Poplavok [café in Yerevan] and taking him to the government gallery of the Opera House to have him listen to high-quality Armenian music was quite a victory,” she says mockingly. “Inviting or not inviting me is of secondary importance to myself.”