“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” warmly congratulates President Robert Kocharian on his 50th birthday anniversary, lauding the “dedication and diligence” in his service to “the two Armenian states.” “He is 50 years old also because the developing country has still to prosper and the Artsakh issue has yet to find a final pro-Armenian solution,” the government-funded paper says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” wishes Kocharian to have “truth-telling and fearless advisers, honest and competent ministers, law-abiding deputies, officials leading modest lives and a slightly sound opposition.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” describes the failure by Armenia’s national team to win any medals at the Olympic Games in Athens as a “disgrace.” The paper blames the flop on the Armenian authorities, saying that they hire wrestlers, boxers and weight lifters to bully their opponents rather than win medals. “The athletes were at the center of Robert Kocharian’s personal attention because they are the ones who are supposed to stuff ballot boxes, beat up political opponents, spread fear across the country, smash journalists’ cameras and protect oligarchs.”
“The truth is that during the last six years virtually all gyms in Armenia have prepared not athletes but skinheads,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” continues. “The truth is that those dedicated to sports have been sacked as the directors of the bulk of Armenian gyms and replaced by criminal elements whose physical force is needed for settling criminal scores.” In a clear reference to Kocharian and other officials that accompanied him in Athens, the paper adds scornfully that Armenian presence in Greece this month must have been only felt in local casinos, restaurants, luxury shops and night clubs.
“Aravot” fiercely attacks Ishkhan Zakarian, chairman of Armenia’s National Olympic Committee. Once a leading member of Soviet Armenia’s Young Communist League, Zakarian now “organizes Robert Kocharian’s leisure,” instead of promoting sports. “He has greatly contributed to the use of sportsmen as blunt weapons in politics and inter-clan warfare,” the paper says. “It is much easier to beat up unarmed people, notably journalists, than to demonstrate their strength and capacity in sport arenas. Becoming a champion in Armenia is less prestigious and financially rewarding than flexing muscles in front of peaceful people.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also does not mince words to deplore the “complete fiasco” of the Armenian athletes. “Gripped by indifference, they looked like taking part not in Olympic Games, but a neighborhood competition,” the paper says with dismay. “Who will be held accountable for this disgrace and millions of drams in taxpayers’ money wasted in the last four years? We need new people as well as new ideas and new approaches.”