“Azg” carries what it says is the list of the most influential politicians of Armenia compiled by a Moscow think thank. Topping it are President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, followed by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. The outspoken leader of the opposition National Unity party, Artashes Geghamian, is in the fifth place. Also among the top ten influential politicians are the chief of Kocharian’s staff, Artashes Geghamian, and National Security Minister Karlos Petrosian. This, according to the authors of the study, indicates that “the presidential team” has strengthened its positions over the past year.
“Azg” also runs comments by some Armenian analysts that took part in the survey. Aghasi Tadevosian of the Yerevan-based Center for National and Strategic Studies says the study shows that control of “shadow levers” and ability to use “illegitimate means” is the key to being powerful in Armenia. Political influence, he says, is not derived from popularity. Ara Sahakian, the former deputy speaker of the parliament, believes that the political influence of Armenian opposition leaders is short-lived because of the country’s “authoritarian” system. According to pollster Aharon Adibekian, the situation in the country is now fully controlled by “the party of Robert Kocharian.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the only correct point made by the opposition is that Armenian society “is not active.” A recent opinion poll conducted by the Armenian Sociological Association revealed that 59 percent of the population follows political developments but rarely takes part in demonstrations organized by the opposition. The paper construes this as proof of the opposition’s low popularity. On the other hand, sociologist Hranush Kharatian says the body politic has no impact on government policies and will hardly play a role in the political life in the near future.
“Golos Armenii” also ponders the public mood in Armenia, saying that widespread “desperation” of the 1990s has given way to “cautious pessimism.” People have been so disillusioned with their post-Soviet rulers that they do not want to acknowledge the slightest positive change pointed out by the authorities. Still, they are now less hopeless about the future.