What does arrest of ex-president portend?
In Armenia a court has had ex-president Robert Kocharyan arrested on charges of election fraud and violent suppression of protests after the presidential election of 2008. Ten people were killed and hundreds injured during the protests. Kocharyan now faces up to 15 years in prison. Eastern European media examine what the arrest means for Armenia and the entire post-Soviet region.
Authoritarianism is beginning to crumble
For journalist Vitali Portnikov the arrest is a symptom of a democratic breakthrough in the post-Soviet territories. On website LB he writes:
“There we have it all of a sudden, the post-Soviet elite's fear of revenge that went unnoticed for so long because it had the backing of the Kremlin, and the worst consequence of a defeat in the power struggle appeared to be a villa on Rublyovka Chausee [in Moscow] rather than a prison cell. This fear is the crack in the wall of authoritarianism through which democracy is beginning to grow. Sooner or later democracy will be able to destroy the edifice of authoritarianism, not just in Russia's satellite states but also in the metropolis that has become so powerful thanks to its impunity.”
Playing with a powder keg
Radio Kommersant FM fears that this could be the start of a larger crisis:
“This in a country that is de facto at war with Azerbaijan and that has neighbours like Turkey and Iran. That means that apart from Russia no one supports Armenia. America will stay out of this, as will Nato of course. And as far as Moscow is concerned, it's no secret what our leadership thinks about revolutions, or about the arrest of former leaders who tried to quash such revolutions. Nothing good can come of this. It's simply an additional problem in the post-Soviet region where we already have few allies. Until now Armenia was one of them, but now we have reason to doubt this.”