Several newspapers note that opposition candidate Stepan Demirchian’s campaign is gaining momentum as evidenced by the growing number of people (especially in the rural areas) attending his rallies. In a front-page comment, “Haykakan Zhamanak” says Demirchian is “registering phenomenal and unexpected successes.” “Despite efforts by government bodies, more and more people in the regions show up for Demirchian’s meetings. They all display a distinctly warm attitude toward the candidate,” the paper says. Demirchian’s People’s Party (HZhK) and other opposition forces must utilize this sentiment in full.
In a separate report “Haykakan Zhamanak” says “even the most expensive Hollywood star would envy the reception the HZhK leader enjoyed in Ararat province [on Thursday].” Its correspondent writes that words alone are not enough to describe the extent of public sympathy for Demirchian.
“Covering Stepan Demirchian’s visits is already becoming dangerous,” writes “Aravot.” “At any moment you can be trampled underfoot by those who want to see and hug him.”
“Orran” also says Demirchian’s campaign is beating all expectations. The paper says Demirchian’s trip to Ararat showed that Minister of Local Government Hovik Abrahamian, who is a native of the area, will not be able make good on his pledge to ensure that 80 percent of local voters vote for Kocharian. It also claims that Kocharian’s Thursday visit to Yerevan’s Nor Nork district “can be considered a complete failure.”
“Ayb-Fe” draws a similar conclusion, saying that in Nor Nork Kocharian encountered “the most lukewarm reception yet” in his reelection campaign.
“Hayots Ashkhar,” meanwhile, continues to attack Kocharian’s opponents. All they do, the paper says, is to “sow and reap chaos” by making false allegations about Kocharian’s unfair tactics. The pro-presidential daily is also unhappy with opposition candidates’ televised advertisements showing their meetings with ordinary people across Armenia. Nevertheless, they will be defeated by Kocharian in “an honest struggle.”
“Yerkir” similarly notes that the opposition candidates do little apart from “gossiping about the incumbent president.” “We have long been used to this and there is nothing new here except the expansion of gossip topics and their intensity,” the Dashnaktsutyun-controlled weekly writes. “The problem is that the majority of candidates is taking every opportunity to create an illusion that the upcoming elections will not be fair.” “Yerkir” is convinced that Kocharian will be reelected in a clean vote. It says the opposition leaders are well aware of this and are simply trying to rationalize their imminent defeat.
But according to “Iravunk,” the “hard propaganda against the current president is gradually breaking the atmosphere of fear and desperation in the country.” “The population expresses its fury with the current regime by attending meetings with opposition candidates en masse,” the paper says, adding that those who attend Kocharian’s rallies are constrained to do so.