“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Armenian authorities are resorting to “delicate tricks” to convince the people that there is no credible alternative to Robert Kocharian. Publication of bogus opinion polls is one of those tricks. The paper is especially critical of Gevorg Poghosian, a well-known pollster and sociologist who increasingly speaks of Kocharian’s growing popularity. Most recently, at a seminar in Yerevan on Thursday.
“Orran” labels the seminar as a “black PR stunt in favor of Kocharian.”
“Hayots Ashkhar,” on the other hand, continues to criticize the incumbent’s opponents. The paper says former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian is not eligible to contest the forthcoming elections. Under Armenian law, he can do so only in 2012.
The Dashnaktsutyun weekly “Yerkir” makes the same point, saying that the opposition is using the issue to again raise questions about Kocharian’s eligibility. The paper believes that it is unfair to equate being born in California and Karabakh. The latter, it says, is “a part of Armenia.” This opposition tactics is fraught with “dangerous consequences” for the Armenian side in the Karabakh peace process. “Yerkir” claims that Hovannisian’s registration as a presidential candidate would undermine the legitimacy of the February 19 elections.
“Yerkir” also carries a statement by the Dashnaktsutyun leadership in Armenia which gives a positive assessment of the past year and says that 2003 will see “a considerable improvement in the socioeconomic, moral and political atmosphere.”
Kocharian’s wife Bella also describes 2002 as a “creative year,” in an interview with “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.” She says the Armenian president is “working hard” and praises his “strong will, single-mindedness and ability to honor his commitments.” Bella Kocharian believes that her husband “will go to the end” in the Karabakh peace process and “will do his best for a just solution to the problem.”
In a yearend editorial, “Iravunk” insists that there is a “real alternative” to Kocharian. In fact, it says, there are several such alternatives. “The rest depends on the efficient work of opposition campaign headquarters and the will of citizens,” the paper says, urging voters not to accept vote bribes from Kocharian’s supporters. The authorities, meanwhile, are “brainwashing” them on various television channels, trying to create “the image of a invincible president” and portray the opposition as “a bunch of ambitious weaklings.”