Presidential press secretary Vahe Gabrielian brushes aside in “Hayots Ashkhar” Raffi Hovannisian’s allegations that President Kocharian had unlawfully ignored his citizenship applications. Gabrielian says Hovannisian would not have been registered presidential candidate even if the court had backed his lawsuit. “The verdict would take effect only after the candidates’ registration,” he says. “It is therefore clear that the court action was initiated for other purposes and was possibly part of a planned larger show.”
But Hovannisian’s “Orran” daily focuses on Kocharian’s own eligibility for the Armenian presidency. It wonders when and how the former Nagorno-Karabakh leader obtained Armenian citizenship. “How is it that they found only one citizen of Armenia in independent Nagorno-Karabakh who can both elect and get elected?”
“Aravot” says if there is one civil liberty that has been respected by the Armenian authorities since 1991, it is their freedom extol their virtues and smear their opponents. State television has always been at the forefront of that endeavor. The style and content of its news reporting will therefore remain unchanged in the years to come.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries results of a new opinion poll conducted in Yerevan from January 6 to 8. More than 24 percent of 600 respondents said they will vote for Kocharian in the February 19 elections. Stepan Demirchian is in the second place with almost 11.5 percent, followed by Artashes Geghamian who has just over 10 percent.
“Aravot” cites another poll according to which Kocharian is leading the race with a 21 percent approval rating. Demirchian is trailing him with just 6 percent.
Another voter survey published by the pro-Kocharian “Hayots Ashkhar” puts the incumbent on 39 percent. Geghamian is given 9.5 percent and Demirchian only 8 percent.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” complains that the main presidential candidates are competing with each other in pledging their loyalty to Russia. “The impression is such that in the forthcoming elections we will be electing not an Armenian president but a [Russian] czar’s governor-general in a province called Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also reports that law-enforcement officers investigating state TV chief Tigran Naghdalian’s murder searched the apartment of independent journalist Vahagn Ghukasian early on Friday. “The prosecutor’s office was looking for objects and documents that would be of interest to the investigation. As a result, Vahagn was taken to the prosecutor’s office along with his computer and several diskettes,” the paper says. It also scoffs at a $250,000 reward promised by the prosecutors for any information that could help them solve Naghdalian’s murder.