(Saturday, April 15)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reacts to the emergence of audio purportedly indicating that a close associate of businessman Artak Sargsian threatened to fire his employees if they failed to help him get reelected to the parliament in the April 2 elections. The paper notes that none of the employees of Sargsian’s SAS supermarket chain dared to defy that illegal order at the scandalous staff meeting. It says their fear of losing their jobs highlights the need for much stronger protection by the government and civil society of worker rights in the country.
“Most young employees of SAS Group are former students of Republican school principals who witnessed similar [pre-election] meetings attended by their teachers and whose parents were for years on the lists submitted to HHK campaign offices,” adds “Haykakan Zhamanak.”
“The most terrible thing is the applause from those humiliated workers which periodically erupted [at the SAS meeting,]” writes “Past.” “This means that their slavery is voluntary. This means that they walked to the scaffold and kissed the butcher’s hands on their own.”
“Zhoghovurd” is also shocked by the secretly recorded audio. The paper predicts that law-enforcement authorities will not hold Sargsian accountable. “And it’s possible that such practices will be seen as ordinary after the upcoming publication of more such recordings,” it says, adding that nobody will organize protests outside SAS supermarkets in Yerevan.
“Does anybody doubt that all HHK candidates used, to varying degrees, the SAS Group method in these elections and won seats in the parliament through criminal mechanisms?” writes “Hraparak.” “Obviously, Artak Sargsian was not lucky and he is paying the price now. The 114 school principals were just as unlucky, even though the directors of other schools also participated in the HHK’s reproduction in one way or another.” The paper believes that Armenians taking vote bribes or bowing to HHK pressure are practically as responsible for flawed elections as the authorities. It says that they fear of losing jobs is not a legitimate justification for that.