In an interview with a Belarusian newspaper reprinted by "Hayastani Hanrapetutyun," President Robert Kocharian says Armenia has regained the political stability that existed before the October 1999 assassinations and is now "developing quite actively." He also deplores "the low level of political culture" of the Armenian opposition. Opposition criticism of his policies, Kocharian says, is "very often an end in itself."
"Orran" claims that Kocharian should have a lot of cause for alarm as the opposition is trying to form a united front before the presidential elections. He will try to create a "strong presidential front by weakening the opposition ranks." But the announcement by Paruyr Hayrikian, a prominent politician who has supported Kocharian until now, that he will run for president exposed "cracks" in the presidential camp. Hayrikian is quoted as saying that Kocharian has not fulfilled his pre-election promises.
"Hayots Ashkhar" condemns Hayrikian "drastic U-turn" which could land him in the ranks of the "radical opposition." The pro-Kocharian paper says the former Soviet-era dissident seems to have become bored from responsible political activities.
"Aravot" finds Hayrikian's anti-Kocharian stance "very suspicious." The paper says Hayrikian and his Self-Determination Union (IM) seem to have realized that their cooperation with the authorities have alienated many of their supporters. So they had no other option but to pretend that they are
back in opposition.
Tigran Torosian apparently refers to Hayrikian's IM when he tells "Orran" that small parties not represented in the current parliament are looking for heavyweight allies as the elections approach. He also says that there is no politician in Armenia who could build an opposition consensus around his presidential candidacy. The opposition will fail to put forward a single candidate in the next elections, according to Torosian.
"Aravot" reports that Armenia's leading political forces have criticized Amnesty International for describing Nairi Hunanian and the four other parliament attackers as political prisoners on the grounds that there is a "political element" in their case. They say Amnesty's judgment is "very wrong and unacceptable."
"Azg" claims that many prominent representatives of the Armenian criminal underworld who were forced into exile in the early 1990s by then interior minister Vano Siradeghian have now returned to Armenia. The paper says the "thieves" are back because there are now greater opportunities for the resumption of their dubious activities in Armenia. There is now "something to be stolen" in the country.
"Or" reports that Ruben Hayrapetian, a wealthy businessman who assaulted a member of the Armenian parliament last month is poised to become the new chairman of the country's Football Federation. The paper says if Hayrapetian had lived in a civilized country he would have been more concerned with avoiding jail, not running football competitions. But nothing threatens his freedom and power in Armenia.