“Iravunk” anticipates that virtually all of the 15 presidential nominees will manage to collect at least 35,000 signatures needed for their official registration. The only problem is Raffi Hovannisian’s eligibility to contest the February elections. It is a big headache for Robert Kocharian and allies.
“Orran” discusses reported disagreements inside the presidential camp. “The president faces the strongest and most radical opposition within his own entourage. It is not a desire to do something for the homeland and its people that unites his supporters. They are concerned with preserving and reproducing their own power,” the paper writes, predicting heightened political tensions in the run-up to and during the elections. It also does not rule out pre-term elections in 2004.
“Hayots Ashkhar” strongly condemns opposition leader Artashes Geghamian’s recent article in a leading Russian newspaper which was full of “lies and slander addressed to Armenia.” The paper terms it an “exceptionally mean act.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also quotes Suren Zolian, an academic and political analysts, as saying that the Armenian opposition is only facilitating Kocharian’s electoral victory with its actions. He says the abundance of opposition candidates “creates confusion among voters” and they will eventually choose someone whom they can understand. Zolian does not expect “radical changes” in the event of Kocharian’s reelection. And yet the existing political and economic system does not provide for the country’s rapid development. “The system must be simplified. Armenia does not need such a huge army of state bureaucrats,” Zolian says.
“Aravot” says Kocharian “enjoys speaking only to newspapers sympathetic to him” because they don’t ask difficult and embarrassing questions. Commenting on Kocharian’s answers to questions from “Golos Armenii” readers, the paper says: “None of the readers asked how official statistics about newly created jobs relates to official figures showing growing unemployment. Nobody wondered what the president thinks of corruption.” Kocharian did not have to explain why lucrative sectors of the Armenian economy are controlled by his “palace businessmen.” “Sadly, the president may really think that he answered the most painful and pressing questions and that people are not concerned about anything else,” Aravot” concludes.