“Zhamanak” comments on the arrest of Samvel Babayan, Nagorno-Karabakh’s former military leader allied to former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian’s ORO opposition alliance. The paper says that it will have important implications for the Armenian parliamentary race. “Does it mean that Babayan was planning shock developments, so to speak, or violent actions against the authorities leading to the kind of destabilization that would be a continuation of the [July 2016] actions by the Sasna Tsrer [armed opposition group?]” it asks. “It is certainly hard to tell because tough and radical statements have always accompanied pre-election processes in Armenia. But it is also evident that after the Sasna Tsrer actions (i.e., the armed attack on a police station in Yerevan) such statements are perceived in a totally different way by both the authorities and the public.”
“Zhoghovurd” says that Babayan’s arrest is politically motivated, calling the former Karabakh strongman “the shadow leader of the Ohanian-Raffi-Oskanian alliance.” The paper cites recent media claims that some “foreign forces” urged Babayan to organize anti-government protests and eve riots after Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections. It suggests that the authorities hope to prevent such events by keeping Babayan behind bars for now.
“Hayots Ashkhar” comments on what it sees as an increasingly “bellicose” pre-election rhetoric of some Armenian opposition forces. “They use the word ‘mobilization’ more and more often,” writes the pro-government paper. It says that they do not necessarily understand that such statements amount to calls for violent unrest.
Tom de Waal, a prominent British analyst and writer, tells “168 Zham” that Russia has found itself in a “strange position” in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. De Waal points out that Moscow provides weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, thereby “keeping the conflict active.” He says that Russian military and national security circles are interested in maintaining the Karabakh status quo, while business elites and top diplomats in Moscow would like to help end the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.