Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian’s decision to cancel a sharp rise in public transport fees following angry street protests by mostly young activists is the central theme of Friday’s Armenian press commentary.
“Zhamanak” says this “victory” of the active citizens may seem insignificant in comparison with the magnitude of problems facing Armenia. “This was the [true] citizen’s victory over themselves and their stereotypes, which had spread apathy in different ways, in the first instance,” explains the paper.
“Hraparak” says Markarian’s decision hugely strengthened activists’ faith in their power. Conversely, it says, corrupt government officials, will be terrified by this development. “There was such atmosphere tinged with senses of victory and defeat in Yerevan yesterday,” writes the paper. It sees “new horizons” opening up for Armenia and welcomes the emergence of “a new young generation capable of fighting.”
“The authorities held out for just a few days before caving in and losing,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” The paper says that “young, joyful, noisy and audacious” youths “full of positive energy” are becoming a serious factor in Armenia. “Not every country has such a master, and in that sense we can be a bit more upbeat about the future of our country,” it says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says what makes the campaign against fare hikes special is the fact that it is led not by established political parties but youth groups. “In Armenia, politics is gradually becoming … an expression of public activity and initiative,” writes the paper. “This reality is a serious challenge to all parties that have existed in Armenia to date.”
“Orakarg” notes that while suspending his own decision Markarian made clear that fare hikes will be inevitable later this year. “Markarian is thus trying to save face because if he had admitted making a wrong decision he would have had to come up with a credible explanation,” says the paper. “That would have been quite difficult, if not impossible.” Markarian would have risked losing his job in that case, it says.