By Hrach Melkumian
Today's Armenian press continues the discussion of internal fighting and splits within the parliamentary parties and the impact of that process on the political landscape.
According to "Haikakan Zhamanak," the deputies who left the People's Party of Armenia (HZhK) will form a new party, which will be headed by deputy parliament speaker Gagik Aslanian. The paper reports that the current speaker of the Armenian parliament, Armen Khachatrian, will also join the new party. Evaluating the infighting within the National Democratic Union (AzhM), the paper says that up till now the supporters of party chairman Vazgen Manukian are winning.
"Aravot" writes that the mechanism of destroying the Communist Party of Armenia is almost the same as in the HZhK. Those who come forward and express their readiness to serve the government with great devotion are being expelled from the party and their followers also go with them.
"The Communist Party has declared that it's in radical opposition to the government, they don't agree and thus they have to leave," Communist Party second secretary Sanatruk Sahakian told "Haikakan Zhamanak".
"Aravot" echoes this argument, but goes on to comment that "it is not clear how the Communist Party is going to remain in opposition if its first secretary works in the Defense Ministry."
The party's newspaper "Kommunist" published an interview with the first secretary of Armenian Communist Party's central committee, Vladimir Darbinian. "The immoral partnership between Hrant Voskanian and Yuri Manukian is like political pimping," Darbinian comments. [Voskanian is a leader of the communist party faction in the parliament and Yuri Manukian was expelled recently from the party for publicly critisizing as he described the "old-fashion policy of the leaders of Armenian communists".] Legally saying, they came to a criminal agreement to cooperate with the authorities, Darbinian stated angrily, adding that Voskanian and Manukian went against the decision of the Party Congress that the party is in the opposition to the authorities. These people are enamoured of the authorities and they are against the decisions of the Party congress, and if so they are not communists, Darbinian comments in his interview.
In an interview published in "Iravunk," Artashes Tumanian, who heads President Robert Kocharian's staff, comments on how the recent political regroupings in the Armenian parliament could affect the president's position. "The situation in general is really fluid and perhaps we couldn't count correctly how many votes the executive branch has in the parliament. But the president and the government have a majority," Tumanian said.
Commenting on why the surviving victims of the October 27 parliament shootings are not present at the trial of the perpetrators of those shootings, former Prime Minister Aram Sarkissian, who is one of the leaders of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, told "Iravunk" that it should be a matter of concern to the country's leaders. People are not coming to the court, because they are afraid of the President, Sarkissian said. Aram Sarkissian also commented on the possibility of dissolving of the parliament. "I don't see that Armen Khachatrian with this Parliament is preventing the development of the country. The same parliament under the leadership of Karen Demirchian was very predictable and there was no problem in implementing its decisions. I don't see any tendency toward dissolving the parliament. I only see that the authorities are pushing this tendency. There is no need to dissolve the parliament," Sarkissian told "Iravunk."
The Russian Charge d'affaires Sergei Capinos told "Golos Armenii" that the main focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin's upcoming visit to Armenia would be economic issues. Several agreements will be signed on strengthening bilateral economic ties, trade and investments, including an importat new ten-year agreement on economic cooperation and trade between Armenia and Russia. Russia is ready to forgive the Armenian debt, but that should be done taking into consideration the interests of both countries, Sergei Capinos told "Golos Armenii." It would possible if the debt is considered as a Russian investment in Armenia, the Russian diplomat said. According to Capinos, trade between Armenia and Russia during the last two years is stabilizing between $172-178 million dollars a year. During first five months of 2001 trade between two countries reached $86 million, which is 20 percent more than during the same period last year, he said.