“Aravot” reports that political tension on the eve of Sunday’s referendum mounted on Thursday when an opposition activist was assaulted by police on the campaign trail.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” gives details of the violent incident, saying that police officers relentlessly kicked Ashot Poghosian, a senior member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party.
According to “Iravunk,” another opposition activist, Vartan Malkhasian, was stopped and dragged out of his car by police when the opposition motorcade passed by President Robert Kocharian’s residence. Incidentally, Malkhasian himself is a former police officer. “Policemen asked why the opposition is looking at the presidential building,” writes the paper.
“It is unfortunate that once again the rights of supporters of a ‘no’ vote are breached before the referendum,” comments “Azg.”
“My guess is that the people will say yes in the referendum because arguments made by supporters of the reforms have been far more substantiated during the past campaign,” presidential adviser Seyran Avagian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Iravunk” claims that the opposition boycott of the referendum has “clearly rendered the authorities nervous.” The paper says the regime no saves no effort to prove “what a bad and anti-state thing the boycott is.” “Such propaganda has a zero effectiveness,” it concludes.
But as “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” writes, the opposition campaign has been extremely “disorganized.” The government-controlled paper argues that the opposition leaders have failed to campaign jointly and changed their tactic mid-way through the campaign. The opposition leaders have “once again proved that they lack the skills to organize any process.” Even the most disgruntled Armenians, it says, dread at the prospect of those individuals leading the country.
“Haykakan Zhamanak,” for its part, notes the “passive stance” of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian throughout the campaign. “They have not participated in the campaigning,” says the paper.
“Iravunk” reports in this regard that Sarkisian will fly to Moscow on Monday to attend a meeting of the defense ministers of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization. “Thus, one of the pillars of the regime, Serzh Sarkisian, will be absent from the country at the most awkward moment when referendum results will be tabulated and the political situation will likely escalate. It can also be suggested that [Sarkisian’s] meeting with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin will be used for ascertaining Moscow’s attitude towards the results of our referendum as well as for possibly trying to get the Kremlin’s backing.”