“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has publicly scolded members of his government affiliated with the Orinats Yerkir Party. Its leader, parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, is on a visit to Austria at the moment. The paper says senior members of Orinats Yerkir have phoned Baghdasarian to inform him about the embarrassing criticism. They also accused Markarian’s HHK party of violating an agreement reached by the leaders of the governing coalition. Baghdasarian is said to have promised to launch an Orinats Yerkir “counteroffensive” on his return to Yerevan.
“We express our disagreement with such assessments [made by Markarian] and they should not be taken seriously,” one of the top Orinats Yerkir figures, Mher Shahgeldian, tells “Iravunk.” Shahgeldian considers Markarian’s behavior “unacceptable.”
“Why is it that Bill Gates or Kirk Kerkorian do not set up political parties and become members of Congress?” asks “Aravot.” “Because Gates built his information technology empire by his own brains, not by being chummy with one or another U.S. president. And Kirk Kerkorian did not get rich because Donald Rumsfeld helped his businesses. Gates and Kerkorian are confident that under any president and defense secretary they will preserve and, in case of good work, multiply their wealth. Our oligarchs have no such confidence.” Hence, their desire to create political parties, editorializes the paper.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says if the oligarchs deepen their involvement in politics the 2007 parliamentary election will degenerate into armed clashes between them.
In an interview with “Aravot,” the Council of Europe representative to Yerevan, Bojana Urumova, says the Strasbourg-based organization insists on a criminal investigation into alleged referendum irregularities and expects the Armenian authorities to take more serious actions than the announced prosecution of a handful of men who allegedly voted in place of their relatives. “All responsible individuals, regardless of their position in the state hierarchy, must be brought to justice,” she says. Urumova also disagrees with the government’s controversial decision to suspend the work of the Armenian human rights ombudsperson’s office.
“Hayots Ashkhar” continues to attack Russia over its decision to raise gas prices for several former Soviet republics, including Armenia. The paper says Russia is trying to act like a superpower. “But it is not the USSR, not the master of the house, but simply one of the residents of the post-Soviet communal apartment. True, the main resident, but still not the apartment owner. The difference here is huge.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” attacks Armenian Football Federation Chairman Ruben Hayrapetian over the refusal of his Pyunik Yerevan team to play against an Azerbaijani side in Moscow. The paper recalls that Hayrapetian had said after Pyunik’s defeat by Neftchi Baku one year ago that he is desperate for a “revanche” and prays for the two teams to meet again. “This is probably one of the most disgraceful pages in the history of Armenian sports,” it says.
“One may think that our guys were simply scared of defeat,” Hovannes Zanazanian, the former captain of another Yerevan team that won the Soviet championship in 1973, tells “Iravunk.”
“Azg” says Hayrapetian and the Pyunik chiefs should have consulted with the Armenian Foreign Ministry before making such an extraordinary decision.