“Azg” says the Armenian authorities should ensure a free and fair constitutional referendum even if that means they will fail to win popular support for their constitutional amendments. “There have been no fair elections in Armenia in the last ten years,” says the paper. “The November 27 referendum is a good opportunity for the current authorities to prove to ordinary citizens that they are able to hold at least one free and fair election and somehow restore [public] faith in elections. Otherwise, the parliamentary elections of 2007, the presidential elections of 2008 and further elections will also be rigged.”
“Aravot” quotes opposition leader Stepan Demirchian as saying at a rally in Vanadzor on Thursday that the authorities are resorting to “repression” ahead of the referendum. “We think that it makes no sense to talk about the legitimacy of the referendum,” he said.
“Ayb-Fe” says those Armenians who reject the constitutional amendments stand for regime change. “Our public is simply a gift for the opposition. All the latter has to do is not to prevent the consolidation of the society and lead it at the appropriate moment,” writes the paper.
Deputy parliament speaker Vahan Hovannisian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that boycott has become the hallmark of opposition activity in Armenia. He says campaigning for the referendum has demonstrated that Armenians are not eager to see a revolution in their country. “The expected [opposition] masses that could create the necessary revolutionary wave have failed to materialize,” says the Dashnaktsutyun leader. “Therefore, [the opposition] had no choice other than a change of tactic.”
This view is echoed by the Dashnaktsutyun weekly “Yerkir.” “In reality, the boycott is being declared for hiding the total failure of the ‘no’ [campaign],” says the paper.
“The government camp has to prove that black is white, while the opposition camp has to assert that black is black,” Rafael Ghazarian, a prominent pro-opposition intellectual, tells “Iravunk.” “But there is even no need to assert that. The opposition only has to restore the people’s high spirits and instill hope that victory is possible.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that state prosecutors have refused to open a criminal case against Ruben Sinoyan, the former head of Yerevan’s Kanaker-Zeytun district accused by his successor of large-scale embezzlement. Ara Kotanjian, the current Kanaker-Zeytun chief, was reportedly beaten up by fellow district prefects this week for refusing to withdraw his petition demanding Sinoyan’s prosecution.
“Aravot” reports that the subscribers of Armenia’s largest mobile phone operator, ArmenTel, have received SMS messages effectively urging them to vote for the constitutional amendments. “Such messages have been sent to 300,000 subscribers,” confirms an ArmenTel official, Margarita Gasparian. The paper says the pro-government undertaking has cost ArmenTel 6 million drams ($13,000).