“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says that by splitting up the criminal cases against seven prominent opposition figures the Armenian authorities effectively admitted that the March 2008 clashes in Yerevan were not pre-planned and organized by the opposition. “Seven persons just can’t separately organize the same riot,” argues the paper. But, it says, more important is the fact that the authorities have stopped even indirectly linking the defendants with the deaths of the ten people in the street clashes. This means that their murders are officially deemed unsolved, concludes the paper.
“Hraparak” suggests that by trying the jailed oppositionists separately the authorities hope to “break up their resistance” more easily, to reduce the public resonance generated by the case against them and to “fool” the Council of Europe. “Not only does this fail to solve the issue of political prisoners but further complicates the situation,” says the paper, predicting more trouble for the authorities.
Speaking to “168 Zham,” Samvel Nikoyan, chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating the March 2008 clashes, denies reports that Hayk Harutiunian, the former chief of the Armenian police, refused to testify before the commission. Nikoyan says he held an “official working meeting” with Harutiunian recently. “I gave him questions, received answers and presented them to commission members during a commission meeting,” says the pro-government lawmaker. “We discussed them and the commission again found that Hayk Harutiunian’s participation at a commission meeting is necessary because there are questions,” he says. Nikoyan also asserts that he has tried unsuccessfully to question Robert Kocharian and Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Sociologist Hranush Kharatian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that an opposition victory in the Yerevan mayoral election would either lead to a “total government crisis” or just the opposite situation: “a very balanced, vigilant and sober authority.” “For the Yerevan mayor plays a serious role in processes going on in the country,” explains Kharatian. Armenia could therefore benefit from an opposition control over the Yerevan municipality, she says. “I can fancy this scenario in theory but not in practice,” adds Kharatian. “But if this opposition comes to power and does not cooperate with the authorities and, what is more, opts for a boycott … a total crisis could arise within the government.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that liquefied gas used by public buses and many other cars in Armenia now costs 40 percent more than it did before the utility price rises that came into effect on Wednesday. “Despite the rise in the gas price, transport fares were not raised yesterday,” says the paper. “But companies operating Armenian [bus] routes are preparing to appeal to the Ministry of Transport and Communication in the hope of revising their agreement [with the municipal authorities] and raising their fees.”