In an interview with “168 Zham,” human rights ombudsman Armen Harutiunian comments on the newly disclosed court ruling that allowed Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) to place opposition leader Aleksandr Arzumanian under a 24-hour surveillance during and after the February presidential election. Harutiunian believes that the ruling is “worrisome” even if it did not violate Armenia’s laws. “Especially if it emerges that not only Arzumanian’s and but many other oppositionists’ phones were tapped,” he says. Harutiunian says he and his employees feel that the NSS also eavesdropped on their phone conversations after the March 1 unrest in Yerevan.
Vahagn Harutiunian, the top law-enforcement official leading the criminal investigation into the clashes, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the investigators have yet to determine who caused the deaths of ten people on March 1. “We have not yet completed forensic tests,” he says. “Those are quite large-scale and difficult tests.”
“Aravot” attacks the investigators for claiming for months that security forces moved into Liberty Square in the early hours of March 1 to confiscate weapons, rather than to disperse the people camped there. “Wouldn’t it be more convenient for them to tell the truth?” asks the paper. “Some would have welcomed that decision by the former president [Robert Kocharian,] while others would not have cared. The majority would have condemned [the authorities,] but nobody would have been able to say that the public is treated like idiots.”
Aram Sargsian, the leader of the pro-government Democratic Party of Armenia, tells “Golos Armenii” that opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian will fail to turn his Armenian National Congress (HAK) into a single party. “Not all of the parties that joined the Congress are thrilled by that idea,” he says. “Very soon HZhK leader Stepan Demirchian will leave the HHSh alliance.” Sargsian hopes to again join forces with Demirchian, citing the “ideological similarities” between their parties.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries an extensive article about Gagik Khachatrian, head of the newly formed State Revenue Committee, branding him “the most corrupt official in the Republic of Armenia.” The paper alleges that officials at the Armenian customs, which is part of the committee, have again begun extorting bribes from importers after a six-month hiatus enforced by President Serzh Sarkisian. “The period of a tough fight against corruption is over,” it says. Citing unnamed government sources, the opposition daily gives what it calls details of corrupt scams involving senior customs officials and importers of various goods.