(Saturday, November 29)
“To draw parallels with Georgia is a nonsense because there were no doubts regarding the outcome of Armenia's elections,” “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” quotes President Robert Kocharian as telling state television on Friday. “The [Armenian] opposition regrets not being more active and resolute after the elections in vain because they didn’t stand a chance. We had a different situation and picture. On the contrary, they must be happy that they did not take illegal steps because the plight of those who resorted to that would have been sad today.”
Kocharian also assured Armenians in the same interview that his government will not press on with plans to raise the electricity and other utility prices. But as “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports, the Russian-controlled ArmRosGazprom natural gas distributor insists on the tariff increase.
A close associate of Stepan Demirchian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that unlike his opposition ally Aram Sarkisian, he does not intend to apologize to ordinary Armenians for failing to overthrow Kocharian last spring. “We were right at that time and are following the right path today,” Grigor Harutiunian says. “And let no one doubt that we will come to power via that path. So Stepan Demirchian just doesn’t have any reason to ask for forgiveness.” Harutiunian says Demirchian avoided radical actions after the fraudulent presidential vote because Kocharian, unlike the deposed Georgian president, would have resorted to “bloodshed” for clinging to power. Nonetheless, he concludes, Kocharian will quit before completing his second term in office.
Another senior opposition figure, former Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian, tells “Ayb-Fe” that the Armenian authorities remain ready to cede the southeastern Meghri district to Azerbaijan in exchange for Karabakh. He claims that Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian lied to lawmakers during last week’s closed hearings on Karabakh when he assured them that the Armenian leadership is strongly opposed to any swap of lands between with Azerbaijan. He says Kocharian will either avoid signing any Karabakh peace agreements or agree to the Meghri variant, he says.
But according to “Hayots Ashkhar,” such allegations are part of the Armenian opposition’s tactics of exploiting external factors for furthering its domestic political agenda. The situation in Armenia is “quite stable,” and the opposition can not escalate it by relying only on domestic factors, the pro-presidential daily says.
“Aravot” laments a new gambling fever in Armenia evidenced by a recent surge in the number of lotteries that have been bombarding television viewers with lucrative adverts promising big prizes. The paper says that “a number of individuals” organizing such lotteries have already built fortunes by “duping people.”
“Have you seen a jeep owner buying a lottery ticket?” Henrik Igitian, a prominent art promoter, tells “Hayots Ashkhar,” deploring the phenomenon. “I have not. Have you seen an educated person playing a lotto? I don’t want to insult anybody, but it is the segment of the population that invest its last remaining assets [in the game] that is playing a lotto.” Igitian believes that the lotteries are again thriving because the plight of most Armenians remains “severe.” “In our country, the law is enforced only against the poor and miserable, it is not enforced against the rich and mighty,” he complains.