“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes that only between 2,000 and 3,000 people attended Tuesday’s opposition rally in Yerevan devoted to the fifth anniversary of the 1999 parliament killings. The paper is disappointed not only with its attendance but also the failure of opposition leaders to shed light on their future activities.
“Azg” says the fact that Armenia experienced “a crime unprecedented in the entire world” on October 27, 1999 suggests that the existing “swamp calm in Armenia can not be long-lasting.” But the paper says at the same time that “there are no enthusiastic masses in Armenia capable of carrying out regime change.” Opposition rallies are mainly attended by elderly people.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” says the October 27 crime is the genesis of the current opposition, saying that its leaders are motivated by revenge. “But no one should turn their personal pain into a public issue no matter how deep and incessant it is,” writes the government paper. It says unspecified “external forces” can exploit the tragedy to destabilize the political situation in Armenia.
“Hayots Ashkhar” likewise accuses opposition leaders of “turning October 27 into a kind of truncheon” in their political activities. “But the past five years have demonstrated that that is a fruitless exercise,” the paper says, adding that nobody has the right to “privatize such a great tragedy and pain.”
“Aravot” brings quotes from Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian to make the point that there were disagreements within Armenia’s leadership during the months leading up to the parliament attack. “I felt after the 1999 parliamentary elections that the atmosphere seems somehow different,” Sarkisian told state television in a May 2003 interview. “Kocharian said, ‘You know, there is a view that it would be best to divide the ministry of internal affairs and national security’. He said, ‘You know, it’s Vazgen [Sarkisian’s idea]. He feels a bit uncomfortable’. Vazgen said, ‘Whom would you like to see as national security minister?’. I said, ‘Dear Vazgen, I want to opt for security because otherwise there would again be problems in the interior ministry’.”
Sarkisian added that he was offered the post of defense minister in the new cabinet formed by Vazgen. “I refused categorically. Before that Vazgen was telling me that ‘You must take over as prime minister’. I said, ‘I cannot be defense minister because you know my character. I would run the defense ministry single-handedly and your interventions would simply be problematic and lead to conflicts’.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that President Robert Kocharian has given the three parties represented in his government until January to replace four of their ministers. The paper says Kocharian is particularly unhappy with Culture Minister Hovik Hoveyan and Education Minister Sergo Yeritsian. (Both men represent the Orinats Yerkir party.) Health Minister Norayr Davidian, of the Dashnaktsutyun party, is also said to be on Kocharian’s “black list.” “The fourth target of Kocharian is Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian,” the paper adds.