(Saturday, May 28)
“The Armenian society has finally taken a sigh of relief: the best guys are not in prison anymore,” editorializes “Aravot.” “They are free and by the people’s side.” The paper describes the last opposition detainees freed by the Armenian authorities as innocent people whose imprisonment caused “discomfort” to all honest citizens. It says the amnesty has also enabled the authorities to rid themselves of “a sense of guilt.”
“What has happened was not conditioned by political processes,” Artak Davtian, a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party (HHK), tells “Hayots Ashkhar,” referring to the amnesty. Davtian says the oppositionists and other prisoners have the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence to thank for their early release. “It is inadmissible when some circles from various political camps are trying to use that for political purposes,” he says. “The fact that international structures have welcomed the amnesty … adds to the significance of this step taken by the authorities,” adds Davtian.
“Why did Serzh Sarkisian decide to make concessions [to the opposition] right now?” asks “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun.” “This is probably the most important question in the sense that the answer to it allows one to have a clear idea of the internal political situation in Armenia. First of all, Serzh Sarkisian worked under [former President] Levon Ter-Petrosian and learned something.” The pro-Ter-Petrosian paper says one of those lessons is that a government must not be uncompromising when it is strong and must make some concessions in order to avoid bigger losses in the future.
Interviewed by “Zhamanak,” Stepan Demirchian, a leading member of Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK), sticks to the official HAK line that a dialogue with the Armenian authorities could only be about the holding of snap elections. “The holding of fresh, fair elections is not an end in itself,” he says. “It is obvious that the situation existing in the country is the consequence of continuously falsified elections.” The political situation in the country will remain volatile until the authorities hold elections widely recognized as democratic, adds the former presidential candidate.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments on President Serzh Sarkisian’s latest calls for wealthy businesspeople to stop abusing their privileged economic positions and to set up manufacturing firms. The opposition paper dismisses these remarks, saying that Sarkisian should simply liberalize imports of all goods to Armenia and create a level playing field for all businesses.