The government-funded “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” devotes more newspaper space to President Kocharian’s Tuesday trip to Armavir province than to the campaign engagements of the 10 other presidential candidates. A headline in the paper trumpets that Kocharian has done and will do “everything possible” to make things better in Armenia.
Kocharian’s campaign spokesman, Vahagn Mkrtchian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that most Armenians see how “honest and normal” the president’s campaign is. “The people’s warm attitude and the meetings that have already taken place also prove the results of opinion poll, according to which President Robert Kocharian really enjoys a lot of authority,” Mkrtchian says, adding that this only enrages his political opponents.
“Aravot” editorializes that Kocharian has brought “a certain tragic element” to the election campaign. “When the incumbent president declares that the elections have a fateful significance for him, that means he, only he and no one else must win them because at stake is his destiny on which he bets everything,” the paper says. Indeed, it says, these elections will be fateful for Kocharian. A defeat would put him in the position of his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian who is still blamed for every bad thing happening in Armenia. Kocharian would also face such accusations.
A senior member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, Aramazd Zakarian, tells “Orran” that local government heads across the country have received specific “plans” to ensure a particular number of votes for Kocharian in their communities. “All that is being done because Kocharian too knows that in fact, he has failed,” Zakarian claims.
Claims that Kocharian will win outright in the first round of voting are dismissed as a “propaganda bluff” by a deputy chairman of another opposition party, the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh). “Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes Khachatur Kokobelian as saying that Kocharian’s “resources are now much smaller than they were in 1998.” “Let us recall who was campaigning, let alone falsifying vote results, for Kocharian in 1998,” Kokobelian says. “He was backed by Vazgen Sarkisian and we all know what a powerful defense minister Sarkisian was. He was backed by the super-minister Serzh Sarkisian who headed the single ministry of interior and national security.” He says the HHSh leadership will endorse one of the opposition candidates later this week.
“Azg” is disappointed with the content of campaign speeches by the presidential candidates. “The candidates and their backers in no way speak and debate about the issues of economic, political and cultural future,” the paper says.