“Haykakan Zhamanak” finds noteworthy the fact that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian is running for parliament on a party slate for the first time in his political career. “The current defense minister replicated Vazgen Sarkisian in linking his political future to the Republican Party,” the paper says, suggesting the following explanation: “When Robert Kocharian failed to become president after the first round [of the presidential election] the myth that the defense minister is irreplaceable blew up in the presidential administration. So Robert Kocharian is now taking decisions with other people.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” goes on to claim that the entire state apparatus will be working for the Republicans in the upcoming elections. The “ideal scenario” for Kocharian is to have a parliamentary majority made up of four or five pro-presidential parties. He has “distributed loyal oligarchs” to several parties for that purpose. But this, the paper concludes, is fraught with serious risks for Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
“Orran” predicts a tough rivalry between the Republicans and the Dashnaktsutyun party. “It is clear that the Dashnaks lack the kind of presidential support that could make them a parliamentary majority,” the paper writes. Kocharian, it says, does not need a strong parliament dominated by a single political force.
According to “Iravunk,” the unification of most opposition parties around Stepan Demirchian poses a serious danger to the authorities. But the down side of it is that the opposition alliance will find it difficult to draw on the resources of its member parties. “In any case, this unity is dangerous for the regime which is now fairly divided.” The pro-opposition paper also sees friction between the Republicans and Dashnaktsutyun, which it says is the result of a growing rivalry between Kocharian and his defense minister. All this makes the outcome of the parliamentary race unpredictable.
Commenting on the arrest of opposition leader Aram Sarkisian’s brother, “Iravunk” accuses the authorities of using their investigation into state TV chief Tigran Naghdalian’s murder to put pressure on the opposition. “They have chosen a primitive, but effective method: hostage taking,” the paper claims.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” similarly believes that the authorities have failed to come up with compelling evidence of Armen Sarkisian’s involvement in Naghdalian’s murder.
“Hayots Ashkhar” seeks to dispel such doubts. “What should have the prosecutor’s office done? They tracked down and arrested one of the suspects. He testified that Tigran Naghdalian’s murder was ordered by Armen Sarkisian. They have also found other evidence. Shouldn’t they arrest Armen Sarkisian? Should they have just said, ‘Well, because you are a brother of a person widely respected by the people, you can do anything’?”