“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Armenia, due on September 14-16, has not yet been officially confirmed. The two governments have still to work out all details of the visit, including bilateral agreements to be signed by them. It is not yet decided whether Putin will arrive in Yerevan on a “state” or “official” visit. The paper sees this uncertainty as reflecting uneasy relations between Armenia and Russia. Just like in late 1997, Yerevan seems to have “spoiled” its relations with both Russia and the West.
“Hayots Ashkhar” speculates that the United States has gone on a diplomatic “counteroffensive” in the region following “coordinated steps” by Russia and Iran. With the dispute over the status of the Caspian Sea escalating, Azerbaijan’s geopolitical significance for the US is increasing, something which will affect American position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to the paper, by trying to strengthen its presence in Azerbaijan Washington is keen to “strip Armenia of any alternative” to a pro-Western foreign policy. The pro-Kocharian paper also accuses the US of encouraging efforts by Armenia’s former leadership to form a pro-Western opposition alliance with a view toward the presidential election of 2003.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armenian prosecutors consider launching criminal proceedings against the leader of the opposition National Accord Front (AHCh), Ashot Manucharian, for his recent verbal attacks on Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian. Manucharian is investigated for allegedly “insulting” the two men in a speech during an AHCh demonstration in Gyumri on July 23. The paper notes similarities between this case and last year’s government crackdown on Arkady Vartanian, a pro-opposition businessmen who staged a nationwide campaign of anti-government rallies.
“Aravot” reports that the special parliamentary commission overseeing the parliament attack investigation has started working on its report which will be submitted to the National Assembly this autumn. One of its members, Grigor Harutiunian of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), says that the commission will not be able to prove allegations that the five jailed gunmen have received “extra-judicial assistance” from some ruling circles allegedly involved in the carnage. He also deplores the fact that only a handful of deputies have appeared in the court to question ringleader Nairi Hunanian.
Interviewed by “Zhamanak,” Agriculture Minister Zaven Gevorgian describes himself as a person with strong organizational skills and “no obvious flaws.” Gevorgian also thinks of himself as a good entrepreneur, pointing to the fact that he is a major shareholder in one Moscow-based private firm. The minister also saves no words to praise Armenian farmers. He at the same time advises them not to have great expectations from the ministry of agriculture and primarily rely on themselves.