There is only scant reference to the 14th anniversary of Armenia’s devastating earthquake in Saturday’s Armenian press. Only a handful of newspapers carry reports and commentaries on the disaster that killed more than 25,000 people.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” claims that the northern Armenian regions devastated by the 1988 earthquake are now “on the path of development.” Their residents are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The post-earthquake gloom is giving way to optimism about the future, according to the paper.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also puts an optimistic spin on the plight of Armenian families that are still recovering from the 1988 disaster. The pro-government paper accuses Armenia’s former leadership of neglecting the area and sees real efforts to improve the situation in the Shirak and Lori provinces under the current authorities. “The radical breakthrough which started in 1998 and gained momentum in the last two years is the result of a new perception of the rationale for the state’s existence and prospects for its development.” This is another factor in favor of President Kocharian’s reelection, according to “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the race for the Armenian presidency promises to be “quite interesting” given the long and diverse list of presidential contenders. Those who like political “shows” will not be disappointed. What the country as a whole stands to gain from that is far from clear, however.
Citing anonymous sources in the Armenian Communist Party (HKK), “Aravot” claims that opposition leader Artashes Geghamian has recently received secret funding from Serzh Sarkisian, the defense minister and Kocharian’s likely campaign manager. The HKK, which has sent conflicting signals about its support for Geghamian’s presidential run, “now stands on the brink of a split.” Rumor has it that some Communist leaders have received $100,000 from Sarkisian in return for their endorsement of Geghamian. “The authorities have been grooming Geghamian as an alternative presidential candidate,” the paper concludes.
“Golos Armenii” says the Armenian opposition is only able to “soil” Kocharian’s electoral victory by accusing him of falsifying election results. The Russian-language paper also thinks that Kocharian’s staunchest supporters are those who had not voted for Levon Ter-Petrosian in the 1991 election.
Alvard Petrosian, a parliament deputy from the pro-Kocharian Dashnaktsutyun party, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that by refusing to contest the election Ter-Petrosian “finally removed his team, his party from the political arena.” She also hopes that Kocharian, if he is reelected, will pay more attention to “the spiritual essence and specificities” of his people. “I anticipate that Robert Kocharian will govern in more peaceful conditions in the coming years and will become friends with his people,” she says.