In an interview with “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun,” David Harutiunian, head of the Armenian delegation at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, complains that the PACE labeled arrested Armenian oppositionists “political prisoners” without studying the matter in depth. “That, in my opinion, is not a correct approach,” says Harutiunian. “As a rule, they usually organize separate reports for that purpose, not within the framework of the [PACE’s] Monitoring Committee but on the basis of totally different studies conducted within the framework of the Legal Committee.” Harutiunian makes clear at the same time that he supports the idea of a general amnesty for all arrested oppositionists.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Armenian officials urged Monitoring Committee representatives who visited Yerevan last week to tell the PACE that the Armenian authorities have made progress in addressing Council of Europe demands and that sanctions against them would reverse that progress. The paper quotes opposition politician Hovannes Igitian as saying that the rapporteurs will think twice before doing that because they would risk being censured by the Monitoring Committee.
Perj Zeytuntsian, a prominent Armenian writer, tells “Aravot” that the opposition is more responsible for the March 1 bloodshed in Yerevan than the authorities because “after all, they are the ones who burned cars and looted shops.” “I think that hooligan behavior continues at the ongoing trials when they [the defendants] don’t stand up, swear and so on,” says Zeytuntsian. “That is not a serious way of struggle. The opposition has turned these trials into shows. What do the authorities do? They just adjourn the trials.”
Aram Manukian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), defends the defendants’ behavior in an interview with “Iravunk.” Manukian says that the judge in the case, Mnatsakan Martirosian, has a history of “criminal” decisions and has no moral right to judge “honest people” and “founders of our country.” “There is no clause in the law obligating the accused to stand up,” claims Manukian.
But Eduard Sharmazanov, a spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, thinks otherwise. “One must not politicize this,” Sharmazanov tells “Iravunk.” “This is a legal matter. The case of the seven [opposition] and all other trials must proceed within the framework of law.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says President Serzh Sarkisian does not control the Armenian political arena. “He can’t even control Dashnaktsutyun,” says the opposition paper. “Not because the Dashnaks are extremely principled but because they cost a lot. Serzh Sarkisian simply doesn’t have that much to hand out. His internal political resources are exhausted.”