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Press Review


"Haykakan Zhamanak" reports that center-left opposition parties, which are currently in talks over the formation of an electoral alliance, have already agreed on some members of their "shadow cabinet." It will be headed by parliament deputy Manuk Gasparian. "The power ministries have been distributed in the following way: Levon Galustian (Socialist Armenia), minister of interior; Garnik Markarian, minister of defense; Eduard Simoniants, minister of national security. [Democratic Party] leader Aram Sarkisian will be given the post of foreign minister."

The paper also claims that Artashes Geghamian's presidential candidacy is likely to be backed by one of those leftist groups: the Socialist Armenia alliance led by Ashot Manucharian. The latter will continue to pull the strings from behind the scenes, it concludes.

In a related political commentary, "Haykakan Zhamanak" writes that Stepan Demirchian, the leader of the opposition People's Party of Armenia (HZhK), has exhausted all possibilities of becoming a united opposition candidate because of his "wrong political posture." Still, Demirchian will remain one of the most popular opposition politicians. "He can become the factor deciding on who should be the opposition's single candidate. Furthermore, Demirchian could be in a position to decide who will become president of the republic." The question is who will now win over the HZhK leader. There are at least three persons who are trying to achieve that: Geghamian, Robert Kocharian and Levon Ter-Petrosian. The paper says chances of
Geghamian teaming up with Demirchian are slim because relations between the
two men are now "close to hostile." As for Kocharian, his efforts will be hampered by the "psychological barrier" of the October 1999 parliament killings. This leaves Ter Petrosian with good chances of launching a far-reaching alliance with Demirchian.

"Aravot" expresses concern at the imminent purchase of Armenia's power distribution network by a "dubious offshore" firm registered on the British Channel Islands. The paper says the company called Midland Resources Holding has little experience with the energy sector and a relatively small business turnover. The paper draws parallels between the energy sector privatization and the 1998 sell-off of the ArmenTel telecommunications operator. "This deal promises to have even more severe consequences for our country," it warns.

(Vache Sarkisian)
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