Consequences of 1996 Presidential Elections Still Felt

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A regular round table discussion organized Wednesday by the Yerevan Press Club focused on the analysis of the 1996 presidential elections and the ensuing Sept. 25 events.

Participants in the discussion were unanimous in the opinion that the illegitimate elections negatively affected the political and economic situation in the Republic. A number of those attending the round table explained this by saying that similar practices were used in the 1989-1991 parliamentary election when the "Karabakh Committee" nominated its candidates through non-democratic methods. Moreover–they shared the opinion that such a practice may be the pre-condition for future elections in Armenia.

A statement by Radio Liberty reporter Vahan Ohanessian that democracy may be established in Armenia on condition the Republic orients to the West–particularly–the United States caused heated debate. He noted that some political time-servers using the fact of illegitimacy of the presidential elections–had formed an anti-American movement–which–he said–may bring about the refusal from the American democratic values. Apart from this–Ohanessian said–this movement created an environment for aggravation of economic and political crises in the country.

However–not all media representatives shared this viewpoint. Deputy Editor-in-Chief of "Vremya" newspaper Valery Aydinian stressed that in its aspiration for democracy the people of Armenia’should not orient to the interests of western powers–but rather should form its own national ideas.

The participants described as extremely negative the total passivity of the population which has no fate in the future and is unwilling to participate in the state building process. Summing up the results of the discussion–the Yerevan Press Club President Boris Navasardian and Edit

or-in-Chief of "Ayzhm" newspaper Vigen Sargssian noted the importance of more active involvement of the mass media in shaping of public opinion not only in the course of elections–but also during the pre-election period. The necessity to raise the professional level of media representatives and stick to a single position when covering problems of vital importance was emphasized. They also said that today the Armenian press tends to be on the path of yellow journalism and pointed out to the danger of its gradual degradation.

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