“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” hails Saturday’s opposition rally in Yerevan as the “beginning of a new phase in the popular struggle” for regime change. “That massive rally demonstrated that government repression going on for two months has produced no results whatsoever,” writes the paper. It says the several thousand people who gathered in a children’s park in the city center showed that they are not only undaunted by the government crackdown on the opposition but have grown “even more convinced that Armenia has no future unless it roots out this regime.”
“The authority lacks legitimacy,” political commentator Aleksandr Iskandarian tells “Taregir.” “According to official results, 40 percent of the population voted for the opposition [in the February 19 presidential election.] I mean the electorates of Levon Ter-Petrosian and Artur Baghdasarian. Artur Baghdasarian may have joined the governing coalition, but his electorate remained in opposition.” Iskandarian says the March 1 violence in Yerevan left some of those Armenians who voted against Serzh Sarkisian in a state of shock and fear. “But others have become radical oppositionists, and this is a serious problem,” he adds.
“What will the opposition do if all those individuals who did not carry out violent acts during the events of March 1-2 are released, if the restrictions stemming from the recent amendments to the law on rallies, demonstrations and marches are lifted, and so on?” asks “Hayots Ashkhar.” “Will they again start organizing demonstrations and marches so that there are more clashes resulting in more arrests? Or they will accept the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s proposal to recognize the results of the February 19 elections or appeal to the European Court in Strasbourg?” The pro-government paper believes that Levon Ter-Petrosian will have to engage in dialogue with the authorities or commit a “political suicide.” “There is simply no third way,” it says.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” is highly pessimistic about the Council of Europe’s willingness and ability to get the Armenian government to comply with its demands. The pro-opposition paper argues that neighboring Azerbaijan has long been imprisoning opposition politicians and journalists and closing newspapers and facing no sanctions by the Council of Europe. “Evidently, it is possible [for ruling regimes] to cut deals with the Council of Europe,” it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that judging from the make-up of his new government, President Serzh Sarkisian is not serious about making good on his pledges to implement “second-generation reforms” in Armenia. The paper says the lack of new figures in his cabinet means there will be no major policy changes.