(Saturday, January 17)
“Hayots Ashkhar” blames opposition protesters for Friday’s clash with police outside a Yerevan court where seven opposition politicians have been standing trial on coup charges. The paper say the police were right to prevent the “illegal march,” drawing parallels with the opposition actions on March 1. “Fortunately, the police suffered no casualties yesterday,” it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that one woman was injured and hospitalized during the incident. The paper says the police also roughed up two journalists from the “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” daily.
“168 Zham” says that one of the Armenian officials who met representatives of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly on Thursday proposed to amend Article 300 of the Armenian Criminal Code used in the prosecution of many opposition members. According to the paper, John Prescott and Georges Colombier liked the idea and said that if the clause is amended by January 27 Armenia could avoid PACE sanctions. “That change presupposes that the political prisoners charged under Article 300 can be set free after it is revised,” says “168 Zham.” “Thus the Armenian authorities are euphoric and almost certain that if they make changes in the Criminal Code in the next ten days, Prescott and Colombier will use that for convincing PACE delegates not strip Armenia of its right to vote.”
Interviewed by “Azg,” Armen Martirosian, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Zharangutyun party, explains why some of its members want the seven Zharangutyun parliamentarians to surrender their mandates. He says they believe that the Armenian authorities are not serious about creating a new political system in which opposition parties would have a stake. In Martirosian’s words, there are also other Zharangutyun members who think that the party will let down its voters if it leaves the parliament. “After discussing these different views we will decide which [option] is more expedient for the development of our state,” he says.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” carries an interview with Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union’s external relations commissioner.” “I am closely following events taking place in Armenia and am content with recent developments in Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks,” she says. “The European Union approves the declaration signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2008, and we are ready to make our experience available for developing confidence-building measures. The moment a peace agreement is signed the [European] Commission will be ready to participate in the development and reconstruction of Nagorno-Karabakh.”