(Saturday, March 23)
The editor of the “Aravot” daily comments on the continuing hunger strike of former presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian, who is disputing President Serzh Sargsyan’s reelection in last month’s ballot. He says the same and even more powerful struggle could as well be waged without food deprivation. “I can’t understand this vague religious-moral reasoning, while solving political problems by using the prospect of one’s own death as a threat is just hard to take in. As far as I know, no one in the history of mankind has ever gone on a hunger strike demanding to be declared president or that snap parliamentary elections be held, or that key government positions be given [to the opposition]… But, on the other hand, the political forces that have unsuccessfully tried to achieve a government change before hardly have any right to make fun of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party leader or his methods.”
Director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute Aleksandr Iskandarian sees no prospect of government concessions in the unfolding postelection standoff, predicting, in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar”, that Hovannisian’s protests will eventually subside or will get marginalized. “The power vertical will withstand,” says the political pundit. “Nothing will change in the pyramid of power, because the government has no reason to make any concessions. Concessions, if any, could happen only through the good will of the government itself.”
“168 Zham” suggests that the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) party may be having some trouble with filling the hall that it has chosen as a venue for its upcoming founding congress. The paper claims that it is for this very reason that the HAK has twice postponed its convention. “Local chapters of the party have been ordered to recruit new members who would attend the congress scheduled to be held at the Karen Demirchian Sport and Concert Complex in Yerevan on April 13. But heads of several local party structures, while giving assurances that there is a large number of HAK supporters, have complained about people being reluctant to sign up, alleging pressure from local authorities and explaining that citizens do not want to go into harm’s way.”
A “Zhamanak” columnist analyzes some of the statements made by President Serzh Sargsyan during his first meeting with the media after reelection on March 18. The commentator, in particular, takes issue with the head of state regarding his ‘formula’ that the rich will stop seeking entry to parliament if the mindset of the Armenian people is changed and everyone realizes that property is inviolable. “In Armenia, this option is enshrined in the Constitution, that is, as Sargsyan himself would say, it is on paper and everything is fine. But in real life it is quite different, as everyone understands that their property will be at risk once they lose power… On the other hand, inviolability of the Constitution itself is necessary as in that case inviolability of property as a norm will be enforced as a matter of course.”
“Zhoghovurd” suggests that the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) has resumed its criticism of the government, and, in particular, of its head Tigran Sarkisian, in view of the approaching municipal vote in Yerevan. “The BHK that sees itself as an alternative to the current government did not contest last month’s presidential election and for some time has been in the role of a political outsider. And now after a period of hibernation the party has decided to remind [the society] of its presence… It may also have had some expectations of returning to the ruling coalition, but those hopes have vanished into thin air after [President] Sarkisian said he did not intend to change the prime minister. Making critical statements remains the only thing for the BHK to do under the circumstances,” the paper concludes.