(Saturday, January 21)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reacts to reports that authorities in Belarus have decided to hand over to Azerbaijan the Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin who was arrested in Minsk last month because of his visits to Nagorno-Karabakh. The paper notes that the decision follows Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s thinly veiled criticism of Lapshin’s arrest. It claims that Lapshin’s extradition to Azerbaijan would scare away many foreigners planning to travel to Karabakh.
“We have to note that Belarus and Azerbaijan, two states very similar to each other, are reaching some sort of a political agreement,” Ashot Melikian, the chairman of the Yerevan-based Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech, tells “Aravot.” “But at the same time they are violating human rights and freedom of speech in particular.” Melikian says the Belarusian government is ready to extradite Lapshin despite being well aware that his life will be at serious risk in Azerbaijan.
“Zhamanak” says that senior Armenian officials tend to join the opposition after they are dismissed and not appointed to another government position. “And they start criticizing the current authorities with various degrees of intensity,” writes the paper. “And after that the society usually starts discussing the sincerity of the former official’s opposition activity. To what extent is he in opposition? Was he dispatched to the opposition [by the government] to split the opposition’s votes and mislead the public? Such reactions generate assurances that even during their tenure that official disagreed with various government decisions but kept silent for some reason before becoming fed up and deciding to speak up and fight. One question remains unanswered: what makes them keep silent and speak up only years later?”
“Zhoghovurd” reports that President Serzh Sarkisian met on Friday with a group of recently demobilized Armenian soldiers who took part in the April 2016 war in Karabakh. Sarkisian told them at the start of the meeting that he wants to have a “frank conversation” about challenges facing Armenia. “That there are serious issues in the military and they require an urgent solution is beyond doubt,” comments the paper. “But Serzh Sarkisian’s remarks raise a question: what prevented him from organizing such a meeting earlier?” It says that Sarkisian met the soldiers as part of his Republican Party’s unfolding election campaign.