Tigran Torosian, the deputy parliament speaker and a close associate of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that President Kocharian’s entourage includes unsavory people who pretend to be influential and support his reelection in the hope of getting senior government posts. “I am convinced that the greatest danger facing the authorities stems from those people, not from the opposition,” Torosian says without naming names. He says those individuals can wreck Kocharian’s reelection campaign. Later in the interview, he says: “The are people who have larges sums and are trying to impose their parochial interests on our political life. Various people are now trying to form some factions to secure their place and influence in the next parliament and to enter the government later on. This might have a disintegrating effect on the country.”
“Or” says that as the elections approach, Armenian parties increasingly need financial resources in their struggle for power. There is hardly a better way of obtaining them than turning to businesspeople. According to some estimates, an individual candidate in the 1995 parliamentary elections needed $20,000 and support of the then ruling HHSh to get elected. The 1999 elections required $100,000 from candidates affiliated with or close to the Miasnutyun bloc. The paper says the 2003 polls will be even more expensive. As for the presidential election, major candidates will need at least $2 million each this time around. “In short, the existence of corruption and the impossibility of fair elections are already a fact.”
“Aravot” carries results of an opinion poll conducted in Yerevan by the Logos polling organization one month ago. About half of the respondents did not know whom to vote for in the presidential election. Twenty-one percent said they will vote for Kocharian. The poll shows that Armenians do not see a clear opposition leader. Artashes Geghamian and Stepan Demirchian seem to be the most popular opposition figures. They had 6 percent each. Also quite popular are Vazgen Manukian and Raffi Hovannisian. As for Levon Ter-Petrosian, he had a “very modest rating.” The paper comments that Kocharian may count on winning up to 40 percent of the vote in the first round of the election. It argues that the Armenian capital has always been considered an opposition stronghold. The incumbent president has “a lot more financial and logistical resources” than his opponents.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” cites unnamed “reliable sources” as saying that Ter-Petrosian will at last go public at the end of this month to announced whether or not he will run for president.