(Saturday, October 20)
“Zhamanak” says the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) is trying to dodge, “at any cost,” responsibility for the explosion of thousands of gas balloons at its pre-election campaign rally held in Yerevan in May. The paper points out that only one person unrelated to HHK, Serob Bozoyan, has been prosecuted and convicted in the case.
“168 Zham” carries an interview with Bozoyan’s wife Marine. She says that the 7,000 balloons filled with natural by Bozoyan gas were personally ordered by Karen Avagian, a parliament deputy leading the HHK’s youth wing. Marine Bozoyan says her husband warned Avagian that the balloons need to be inflated by the more expensive helium in order to be safe but that the HHK figure preferred the cheaper option. She also says that Serob “could not have filled up and bound together 7,000 balloons single-handedly” and is now too scared to tell the truth.
Vartan Harutiunian, a human rights campaigner sympathetic to the Armenian opposition, tells “Aravot” that high-profile corruption cases opened by the authorities in recent weeks should not be taken seriously. “This is just a show,” Harutiunian claims. “They are arresting and will arrest a few least protected individuals and will declare that the fight against corruption is continuing, until the presidential elections are over. Then they will again give the green light to the enrichment of their cronies at expense of the state. Assuming, of course, that their plans are implemented and Serzh Sarkisian is reelected.”
“Zhoghovurd” reports that Gyumri’s new Mayor Samvel Balasanian has started exposing “abuses” that were committed during his predecessor Vartan Ghukasian’s rule. The municipality reported on Friday that the city’s previous municipal council approved on September 14 the sale of an old Soviet limousine belonging to the municipality to Ghukasian’s brother Vartan for just 100,000 drams ($245). Zohrab Yeganian, a spokesman for Balasanian, is quoted telling the paper that the sale was illegal and must be investigated by law-enforcement bodies.