“Haykakan Zhamanak” discusses possible circumstances surrounding the January 7 meeting between Robert Kocharian and the leader of the Armenian community in Russia, Ara Abrahamian. The paper says rumors are circulating among some governing circles that Moscow wants Abrahamian to be appointed Armenian prime minister in exchange for its support of Kocharian’s reelection. But presidential press secretary Vahe Gabrielian categorically denies them. “I rule out a change of the Republic of Armenia’s government in the foreseeable future,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also quotes an unnamed aide to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian as warning that “sacking the prime minister under any pretext would have the most dire consequences for the authorities. The paper, however, claims that Kocharian has offered Abrahamian to appoint his brother Gagik as a presidential adviser.
“Orran” reports that Kocharian’s campaign headquarters, based in the central offices of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, is full of senior government officials these days. On Monday, for example, there were several ministerial cars parked outside the building. One of them belonged to Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, Kocharian’s campaign manager. The paper suggests that the ministers are busy thinking about how to ensure Kocharian’s victory in the first round of the elections. A spokesman for the campaign headquarters, Vahagn Mkrtchian, insists that no minister is “officially engaged” in the Kocharian campaign. “But the law does not ban anyone from coming here for meetings,” Mkrtchian adds.
“Azg” predicts that most presidential candidates who will be registered by the Central Election Commission will fare extremely poorly in the elections and will win no more than five percent of the vote.
“Ayb-Fe” reports that opposition candidates have condemned an agreement by Armenia’s five biggest private TV stations to set uniform fees for campaign ads. They suspect that the deal was sponsored by the presidential administration in order to minimize opposition leaders’ appearances on TV screens. A spokeswoman for the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) claims that it was personally arranged by Aleksan Harutiunian, new chief of state television and a former top aide to Kocharian. She complains that the HZhK will have to spend half of its campaign funds on political ads. “The authorities are doing everything to limit starting conditions for opposition candidates’ participation in the elections,” says Suren Sureniants of the Hanrapetutyun party.
Citing “reliable sources,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the controversial Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission will meet in New York on January 22-24. “The Armenian members of the commission have already left for New York,” it says.