President Kocharian's decision to install his adviser Aleksan Harutiunian as the new chairman of the Armenian Public Television may have been unexpected, but was "very logical," writes "Haykakan Zhamanak." "Whom else could Kocharian entrust with doing that job? In effect, the current president has a very small political team, and Harutiunian's appointment reflects this reality."
After all, agrees "Aravot," Harutiunian has long been responsible for "coordination of state propaganda." Like "Haykakan Zhamanak," the paper is more surprised with the choice of Harutiunian's deputy, a hitherto unknown member of Kocharian's administration called Vartan Kopian.
Deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian tells "Hayots Ashkhar" that Tigran Naghdalian's murder will not undermine political stability in Armenia. Torosian urges political parties do refrain from "sharp statements" and display "utmost restraint" on the issue. "We have to await the results of the investigation," he says. "Nobody will benefit from exploiting this issue, especially in the pre-election period."
"Orran," meanwhile, continues to chide the pro-presidential media for blaming Naghdalian's murder on the opposition. The government has all the powers to investigate the crime and identify its perpetrators, the paper says. But instead of preventing and punishing contract killings, the regime is engaged in an "ideological and moral terror of the public."
"The political life in Armenia is dead," writes "Aravot," again predicting Kocharian's victory in the presidential elections. The paper bases its conclusion on "the absence of an ideological debate" in the country and the resulting public indifference to political processes. Both the ruling forces and the opposition lack an "ideological base." Kocharian, for example, is "absolutely pragmatic." "He can simultaneously be an extreme nationalist and liberal; play basketball; and close a television company." The parties grouped around him have a similar agenda. This, according to "Aravot," means that Armenia will not have a regime change as a result of elections in the foreseeable future.
Sociologist Gevorg Poghosian tells "Azg" that only 4 percent of Armenians claim to be affiliated with political parties. He says this means that membership figures cited by most parties are not credible. "Our research conducted for the past ten years shows that [public] interest in the parties is constantly dwindling," Poghosian says.