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Press Review


"Aravot" reports that opposition leaders have rushed to defend former defense minister Vagharshak Harutiunian against harsh attacks by President Kocharian. "The arrogance of our president has no limits," says Aram Sarkisian, the leader of the Hanrapetutyun party, of which Harutiunian is a senior member. "Today he announces that he is the founder of one third of our army. Tomorrow he will claim half of it, and then the entire army. If Vazgen Sarkisian had been alive and Samvel Babayan free, Kocharian would not have been able to make such statements." Kocharian's remarks, according to Sarkisian, are "the logical continuation" of the October 1999 killings. Sarkisian openly accuses Kocharian of masterminding his brother's assassination.

Another opposition leader, Artashes Geghamian, also voices his support for Harutiunian. Geghamian reminds that Kocharian himself had signed a decree in 1999 appointing Harutiunian as defense minister.

"Aravot," "Haykakan Zhamanak" and "Orran" also deny Kocharian's claims that Harutiunian has never been on the frontline during the war and therefore did not deserve to become a general. They say Harutiunian had in fact coordinated special police units that fought Azerbaijani forces in the early 1990s.

"Once again the president of the republic has talked not about the essence of problems but personalized them in a way characteristic of him," writes "Orran."

"Iravunk" is also very critical of Kocharian. The paper says the president wants to win sufficient number of votes in the first round of the presidential elections "without very obvious irregularities." "This task is practically not feasible," the paper says. On the other hand, allowing a second round of voting is "extremely dangerous" for Kocharian because he would no longer command the absolute loyalty of his allies and the state apparatus. "So no one should rule out that Robert Kocharian will not stand in the elections and will instead prefer to reach an agreement with one of the candidates on the smooth transfer of power and guarantees for his immunity."

"Yerkir" attacks opposition forces for their perceived overtures to former president Levon Ter-Petrosian. The paper says that by supporting Ter-Petrosian they admit their political incompetence.

Some newspapers carry a statement by parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian strongly condemning the alleged beating of parliament deputy Gevorg Hakobian of the Miasnutyun faction in police custody.

But the leader of Miasnutyun, Galust Sahakian, is quoted by "Hayots Ashkhar" as saying that he does not think that Hakobian was subjected to violence. "I don't think that such a thing happened," he says. Sahakian accuses unnamed political forces of trying to "drive a wedge between various government wings as well as deputies from parliament factions."

(Vache Sarkisian)
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