“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” describes as an “absolute lie” a new constitutional clause stipulating that Armenia’s human rights ombudsman is to be elected by parliament. “If that was really the case, Kocharian would have simply kept skiing in Tsaghkadzor and humbly waited for a decision made by parliament,” explains the paper. However, he has clearly bullied the governing coalition into giving the job to his staunch loyalist Armen Harutiunian, it says.
“Aravot” reports that five pro-government deputies have withdrawn their signatures from an opposition appeal to the Constitutional Court against the legality of the controversial mass evictions in downtown Yerevan. The move followed Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s threat to sanction them.
“Iravunk” claims that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s visit to Yerevan marked “yet another geopolitical U-turn” in Armenia’s foreign policy. The paper says Kocharian has now adopted an “Iranian or Russian-Iranian orientation.” “And although that U-turn objectively contributes to the maintenance of the status quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, that step by Robert Kocharian’s regime is aimed at protecting not the vital interests of Armenia and the Armenians but its own power.”
Commenting on the collapse of the Rambouillet summit, Samvel Babayan, the former commander of Karabakh Armenian troops, tells “Iravunk” that Armenian-Azerbaijani talks will be fruitless as long as they exclude representatives of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
According to Gegham Baghdasarian, an opposition member of the Karabakh parliament, Armenia’s and Karabakh’s leaders are also to blame for Stepanakert’s exclusion from the peace process. “The Karabakh authorities must at last have the courage to pursue an independent policy,” he tells “Aravot.”
“The Armenian opposition may not acknowledge this, but deep down it has come to terms with the idea of preparing for the next elections,” writes “Ayb-Fe.” The paper says the lack of popular interest in the most recent opposition rallies finally dashed opposition leaders’ hopes for forcing pre-term parliamentary and presidential elections.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes Energy Minister Armen Movsisian as saying that the planned entry into force on April 1 of a doubling of the cost of Russian natural gas will immediately be followed by a rise in electricity prices in Armenia.
“Azg” reports that a fresh snowfall disrupted public transportation across Yerevan on Thursday morning, once again taking municipal authorities by surprise. “Yerevan was left paralyzed for several hours this time around,” the paper says. It suspects that much of 100 million drams ($220,000) allocated by the government to the municipality and district administrations for cleaning city streets of snow has been embezzled.