(Saturday, September 24)
“Zhamanak” complains that the official celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence were overshadowed by the first public demonstration of Russian-made Iskander missiles during the September military parade in Yerevan. “One gets the impression that we celebrate Iskander’s anniversary, rather than the independence anniversary,” writes the paper. It agrees that those sophisticated missiles are a “really important military-political factor” and give Armenia a major deterrent against Azerbaijan but says this should in no way diminish the significance of the national holiday.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s friction with Economy Minister Artsvik Minasian is jeopardizing President Serzh Sarkisian’s power-sharing agreement with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). The paper says that Sarkisian failed to consult with Dashnaktsutyun before sacking Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and thereby breached that agreement. “It is evident that there are differences between the two coalition partners on the question of the government change,” it says. “Whether or not they are insurmountable will be clear very soon.”
“Zhoghovurd” attacks the chairman of Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC), Tigran Mukuchian, over his claims that the September 18 local elections held in more than 300 communities were free and fair. Mukuchian also defended last week the CEC’s decision not to cancel a mayoral election in Echmiadzin where the main opposition mayoral candidate was reportedly beaten up by a large of group men led by the town’s mayor, Karen Grigorian, on the eve of the ballot.
“Technically, it is indeed hard to fault Mukuchian,” comments the paper. “But if the CEC chairman is serious about his desire to hold free and fair elections then Mukuchian himself should have responded and not waited for a formal appeal from the attacked candidate, Artur Tumanian.” It argues that Tumanian’s supporters had repeatedly demanded in the weeks leading up to the violence that the CEC cancel the local election.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” also dismisses Mukuchian’s highly positive assessment of the local polls and points to the violence in Echmiadzin. “Mukuchian is absolutely right,” the paper says with sarcasm. “In Echmiadzin, candidates were really free to beat up and shoot at each other.”