"Haykakan Zhamanak" reports that the Yerevan municipality is haunted by rumors about Mayor Robert Nazarian's imminent resignation. The paper claims that Nazarian has told his subordinates that President Robert Kocharian promised not to sack him before next February. Minister for State Revenues Yervand Zakharian is considered to be Nazarian's most likely successor.
In an interview with "Aravot," a senior member of the Armat faction of the former ruling HHSh, Stepan Grigorian, says that only former president Levon Ter-Petrosian can offer a credible alternative to Kocharian. "The opposition can achieve results only by consolidating around Ter-Petrosian," Grigorian says.
But as the leader of the opposition Union for Constitutional Rights (SIM), Hrant Khachatrian, tells "Hayots Ashkhar," Ter-Petrosian "has no chances of a comeback although there exists a plan to bring him back to the political arena, which is backed by quite serious forces." "But no matter how hard those forces try, it is no longer possible to create pre-requisites for the HHSh's return to power," Khachatrian says. He also calls for "immediate" negotiations among the country's main opposition parties over their possible joint candidate in the next presidential elections. He believes that that candidate should be "a new person" in Armenian politics.
"Haykakan Zhamanak" reports that the Socialist Armenia bloc, the Armenian Communist Party (HKK) and another Communist organization will soon announce the formation of a "left-wing patriotic alliance." It will also comprise other, smaller left-wing groups. The bloc will campaign, among other things, for Armenia's accession to the Russia-Belarus union despite the latest rift between Moscow and Minsk. The liberal paper, which is strongly opposed to the idea, says leaders of the would-be alliance are only driven by nostalgia for their affluent Soviet past. But they will not succeed in "changing the course of history," it concludes.
"Hayots Ashkhar" quotes an HKK leader, Norik Petrosian, as saying that the Communists remain committed to joining the Russia-Belarus union but pin no hopes on the current Russian leadership. "[President] Putin is more dangerous for Russia, more cynical than Yeltsin and is setting such conditions that scare off those who are ready to join the union," he complains.
Meanwhile, Armenia's controversial telecommunications monopoly, ArmenTel, comes under fresh media criticism over its latest row with one of the country's biggest Internet service providers. "Hayots Ashkhar," for example, reports that all office telephones of the newspaper "Iravunk" were cut off on Tuesday. The paper says this happened after "Iravunk" ran a report highly critical of ArmenTel.