Commenting on the official start of the election campaign, “Azg” says Armenian journalists must be careful not to mix up information and candidates’ propaganda. The paper, which supports President Kocharian, also urges voters to vote for candidates with “realistic” platforms. Otherwise, it says, the elections “would look like some entertaining exercise.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” expects that Kocharian and his opponents will save no effort to discredit each by bringing out various “compromising materials.” Also, it says, there will not be a lack of recriminations between them in the coming weeks.
“Ayb-Fe” says all of the candidates are capable of “making a fuss.” “In short, we will be told to elect a president from a muddy water within the next one month,” it writes.
“Iravunk” criticizes the timetable and other rules for the candidates’ use of airtime on state television set by the Central Election Commission on Monday. The paper believes that the rules are such that the opposition contenders’ campaign ads will not make any difference, Kocharian’s message will be spread in regular television programs at any time of the day. “The incumbent president will thereby get a clear propaganda advantage over the other candidates.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that an Armenian organization uniting veterans of the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan has decided to support Kocharian. “What we need is stability,” says its chairman, parliament deputy Armen Mkhitarian. “Unfortunately, opponents of the current president envisage systemic changes.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also quotes the chairman of the parliament committee on foreign affairs, Hovannes Hovannisian, as saying that the Armenian elections will be closely watched by the United States and other Western powers. “Especially because Armenia is now a member of the Council of Europe,” he says, adding that Yerevan must do everything for the legitimacy of the polls.
“Aravot” editorializes that Kocharian’s last visit to Moscow was not meant to strengthen traditionally close ties between the two nations. “It is clear the visit was personally needed by Kocharian and was the focal point of his election campaign. For any Armenian leader, showing our pro-Russian people that he is a younger brother of the Russian czar means strengthening his positions at home.”
But as “Orran” claims, Russia is in no way interested in Kocharian’s reelection. The paper says President Vladimir Putin did not explicitly endorse Kocharian.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Kocharian camp is considering suspending the ongoing trial of the parliament gunmen after the elections to avoid any further damage to his campaign. A key trial lawyer, Oleg Yunoshev, voices similar concerns in an interview with “Ayb-Fe.” “We must not stop the judicial process just because of the elections,” he says.