“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that supporters of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian have begun forming “initiative groups” in support of his participation in the presidential elections. The groups scattered around Armenia will comprise between 200 and 300 citizens who will meet in mid-November to officially nominate him for the presidency.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says there will not be a lack of presidential candidates this time. But many of them will drop out of the race just days before the February 19 vote. The paper expects that President Robert Kocharian will score a “convincing” victory just as Ter-Petrosian did in 1991 when he polled more than 80 percent of the vote. It says the existence of numerous presidential hopefuls does not mean that a run-off vote is inevitable.
“Aravot” says that Armenia’s most high-ranking government officials will not stop taking bribes even after the planned huge increase in their salaries. They have grown used to “a luxurious life at others’ expense” and $500 or $600 a month will not make a difference for them. The best way of fighting corruption, the paper says, is to choose clean people in next year’s elections.
“Hayots Ashkhar” admits that the annual government budgets remain irrelevant to the majority of Armenians who “do not know where that money goes and where it gets lost.” The pro-presidential paper also thinks that decent salaries will not reduce government corruption, saying that many government officials have become inherently and irreversibly corrupt. “Of source, $1000 a month is good. But $10,000 a month is much better. Any official, no matter how much he is paid, will find a way of earning ‘on the side’.”
“Azg” condemns the planned salary hike as a “mockery of the socially most vulnerable stratum of the population.” It accuses the government of “further deepening the already severe social polarization in its favor.” “There is no guarantee that top officials will content themselves with $700-$1000 salaries and will not make use government of opportunities anymore,” the paper says.
“Orran” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” report that the ongoing trial of the parliament gunmen has confirmed suspicion that the famous video of the parliament killings was edited before its release. They wonder why it was edited and on whose orders.