Interviewed by “Haykakan Zhamanak,” a senior member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, Smbat Ayvazian, backs Georgia’s allegations that the explosions on the Russian gas pipeline were a deliberate act of “sabotage” ordered by Moscow. Ayvazian says Russia forced Armenia to play its game by cutting electricity supplies to Georgia. Armenia, he claims, thus became an additional “tool for punishing Georgia.”
“Azg” notes that repairs on the pipeline are taking much longer than was expected. The paper says Russian officials initially promised to restore it by Tuesday.
“168 Zham” says the gas dispute has raised the prospect of a “revision of Russian-Armenian relations” not just in the energy but also other spheres.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” warns that a cutoff in gas supplies to the population would have “unpredictable consequences.” The paper argues that hundreds of thousands of households would switch to using electricity for heating purposes and thereby place Armenia’s national power grid under enormous strain.
“168 Zham” says the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will not consult with their people before accepting a solution to the Karabakh conflict. The paper says they could only use domestic public opinions for rejecting a peace deal they do not like.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes that President Robert Kocharian’s latest unexpected vacation again coincided with important visits to Armenia by foreign officials dealing with the Karabakh conflict. A casually dressed Kocharian met with Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor on Wednesday. “Perhaps Kocharian reacts in such a way to meetings that are undesirable and unpleasant for him,” speculates the paper.
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” while Kocharian has no problem with various government officials’ and oligarchs’ intention to take part in the 2007 parliamentary election, he is “not going to put administrative resources at their disposal.” “Those individuals are free to join the parliamentary race, after which the president will take note of the correlation of forces in the political arena,” says the paper. “On the basis of that he will form an interim government for the period between 2007 and 2008.”
“I believe that during the referendum we missed a great opportunity to show that Armenia can organize an electoral process meeting all international standards,” deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian tells “168 Zham.” “In this regard, the 2007 and 2008 elections are becoming critical.” “We must at last realize that falsifications harm Armenia,” agrees another leader of the parliament majority, Mher Shahgeldian. He calls for a toughening of legal punishment for such crimes.
But as opposition deputy Grigor Harutiunian tells “Aravot,” the Armenian authorities’ failure to prosecute a single election official means that the next elections will not be more democratic.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the U.S. embassy in Yerevan has decided to ban its correspondents from covering news conferences and other events taking place in the mission. “We have been informed about this by an embassy spokesperson. The stated reason for such a decision is that ‘Haykakan Zhamanak’ is a non-objective and biased media outlet.” The pro-Western paper, which has repeatedly lambasted Ambassador John Evans for his perceived support for Armenia’s ruling regime, sarcastically welcomes the news, saying that it has succeeded in getting its message across.