(Saturday, June 25)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian Justice Ministry has denied reports that its boss, David Harutiunian, and his family spent their summer vacation in 2003 in the Beirut villa of Pierre Fattouch, the Lebanese owner of Armenia’s second mobile phone operator. The ministry spokesman, Ara Saghatelian, says Harutiunian and his relatives stayed in a hotel and only once visited Fattouch for a dinner. The paper is not convinced by the denial, saying that Harutiunian visited Lebanon with Vahe Yacoubian, a close friend of his and the lawyer who represents the Armenian government in dealings with foreign investors. It was Harutiunian and Yacoubian that spearheaded the government effort to break up the ArmenTel monopoly on mobile telephony in Armenia.
Samvel Babayan, the former Karabakh strongman, is quoted by “Aravot” as saying that free elections will be impossible in the unrecognized republic as long as it is under martial law. “I consider talk of democracy [in Karabakh] stupid at best,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Karabakh authorities have opened a criminal case in connection with the beating of a prominent local member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). The paper says the inquiry is taking place under “the softest possible article” of Karabakh’s Criminal Code that carries up to two months’ imprisonment.
“Azg” says Dashnaktsutyun and virtually all other Armenian parties condemn a violent act only if its victim is their loyalist and only with the aim of gaining “political dividends.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” touts the latest Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe resolution on Armenia as a “victory for the entire country.” “Armenia is proving that it is absolutely capable of understanding and successfully completing the evolutionary path of democratic reforms and attain a qualitatively new level of stability through internal political consensus,” writes the paper. It goes on to argue that “the opposition can no longer say ‘no’ in the constitutional referendum” and has to drop plans to turn it into a “referendum of confidence” in President Robert Kocharian.
“Golos Armenii” hopes that the PACE call for cooperation between the authorities and the opposition on constitutional reform “will not remain on paper” and that Armenia “will take yet another step toward democratizing political and public life and brining it closer to European standards.”
But as opposition lawmaker Hrant Khachatrian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the opposition should not end its boycott of parliament sessions and endorse Kocharian’s constitutional reform. Khachatrian argues that Kocharian and his allies did not willingly embrace key constitutional amendments suggested by the Council of Europe.