“Aravot” says it feels “offended” by Suren Khachatrian’s reappointment as governor of Armenia’s Syunik province more than a year after a high-profile murder widely blamed on him. “Throughout my journalistic career I have heard and read many [bad] things about myself but not been particularly offended by them,” writes the paper’s editor, Aram Abrahamian. “But this appointment offended not my character but me as a citizen. It also offended the dignity of all people of Armenia and especially thousands of Syunik residents who have long suffered from Liska (Khachatrian’s nickname). My second feeling is shame. I am ashamed of not being able to prevent the appointment of that scandalous figure. With my writings and words, I have failed to protect the people of Syunik against new dispossessions, stabbings, rape and beatings.”
“The main problem is not that with this appointment the authorities openly spat at the people and trampled underfoot all ethical norms,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “The main problem is not that for thousands of people and the Syunik residents in particular this is the final straw and that thousands of people who still hoped that something might change in Armenia will sell their assets and emigrate … Those who more or less knew Serzh Sarkisian didn’t expect anything different from him. The problem is the propaganda smokescreen used for presenting this development.” Khachatrian’s appointment is officially portrayed as a decision by Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and his cabinet with which Serzh Sarkisian has nothing to do. The pro-opposition paper is convinced that President Sarkisian is the one who reinstated Khachatrian.
“Why did Serzh Sarkisian decide to take such a mean step?” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “This has a dual meaning. He is throwing a gauntlet to the public. It has been speculated in political circles lately that Serzh Sarkisian’s positions have weakened, that he feels insecure. With such a move, Sarkisian is both confirming and refuting that speculation. He refutes that in the sense that he is not scared of sparking public fury and weakening his positions with Liska’s appointment as governor. He confirms that because if someone relies on reputed crime figures like Surik Khachatrian it means that he knows that he lacks public support … Just two days earlier Sarkisian was speaking of free political competition in Armenia. But what political competition can there be in a Syunik led by Liska, a man whose family is widely associated with murders, drugs, corruption and lawlessness?”
“From the UN [General Assembly] podium Serzh Sarkisian was demanding justice from the world,” says “Zhamanak.” “He was demanding respect for Karabakh’s right to self-determination, unmasking Azerbaijan, and sending Turkey ‘to hell.’ And at Columbia University he was speaking with students about making the world a better and more secure place and turning challenges into opportunities. With the Liska’s reappointment, Serzh Sarkisian has demonstrated how challenges are turned into opportunities.”
“Having fully discredited himself in the public’s eyes, committed numerous crimes and turned Syunik into his fiefdom, Liska is again back,” writes “Hraparak.” “Even people who have been neutral towards the authorities are now furious, cursing and slamming them. Who can say how many people have decided today to leave the country? How many émigrés have decided not to return to their homeland?”