Armenian press commentary continues to revolve around a spate of visits to Armenia by various Russian government officials and public figures, including former President Boris Yeltsin.
"Haykakan Zhamanak" believes that the visits are not a coincidence, saying that "every Russian figure is fulfilling a mission here." The paper links the visits to the Armenian presidential elections, saying that their outcome is "not quite predictable." The paper also details alleged attempts by the Armenian authorities to prevent the meeting between Yeltsin and Levon Ter-Petrosian. It claims that Armen Smbatian, Armenia's ambassador to Russia accompanying Yeltsin, personally called a close Ter-Petrosian associate, urging the ex-president to cancel the meeting. "Later on, the presidential administration decided to make Yeltsin's already busy schedule in Armenia even busier so that he does not have time to meet Ter-Petrosian or forgets about such a meeting."
"Or" says Yeltsin may have decided to talk to Ter-Petrosian at the request of his successor, President Vladimir Putin. The paper suggests that Putin may be interested in clarifying whether Ter-Petrosian will run in the February presidential election. "The position of the current Armenian authorities is no doubt beneficial for the present leadership of Russia," it writes, adding that Yeltsin's influence in Russia is not as "decisive" as some Armenian media think.
"Azg" does not think that the election topic was seriously discussed by the two former presidents. "Especially for Ter-Petrosian, the question of participating in the 2003 elections is irrelevant…It is just the specter of Ter-Petrosian that will be directly taking part in the elections."
Another visiting prominent Russian, State Duma member Nikolay Ryzhkov, tells "Aravot" that Yeltsin can not affect the Armenian elections. "He can simply show that he likes Kocharian. But I don't think that he will be pressing some Armenian forces to act in Kocharian's favor. I don't think that he arrived to press somebody here," he says.
The former Nagorno-Karabakh foreign minister, Naira Melkumian, assures "Hayots Ashkhar" that her recent replacement was due to "only personal and family circumstances" rather than some political considerations. Melkumian says no breakthrough should be expected in the Karabakh peace process within the next year "given the internal situation in Azerbaijan." This is one of the reasons why, she says, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan "will not have enough time" to deal with the Karabakh issue.