“Haykakan Zhamanak” says its decision to hold an opinion poll on June 17 among its readers on who should be Armenia’s president has aroused strong interest. The paper says it gets numerous phone calls from people already expressing their political preferences. Most of them voice support for opposition leader Artashes Geghamian and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
“Hayots Ashkhar” denounces the undertaking, saying that “Haykakan Zhamanak” is trying to help the Armenian opposition whose two-month demonstrations in Yerevan have failed to achieve their goal. But, the pro-presidential paper says, the main purpose of the poll is to support Ter-Petrosian. “All of this means nothing but imposing on the public…the image of the former [president] and make people come to terms with a belief that the return of this politician ‘of the highest caliber’ is inevitable.”
“The opposition holding rallies can not achieve success for one basic reason: the parties making up the Artarutyun alliance as well as the National Unity Party have no political or ideological differences with Robert Kocharian and the ruling coalition,” writes “Aravot.” “As far as foreign policy is concerned, the government and the opposition are competing on who is more pro-Russian and most patriotic on the question of not selling out Karabakh. In the area of domestic policy, the two sides are competing in social populism.” Their leaders have “the same mentality and vocabulary.” The paper says those who attend the opposition rallies expect economic miracles from a new regime. “But because the regime has not changed within a few months the masses have begun to slowly shrink.”
“Who told you that the state must solve your problems?” “Aravot” asks them. “Who convinced you that the government leaders must do something good for you? With such expectations is it is impossible to change government or achieve the country’s prosperity.”
“Azg” claims that the Armenian authorities foster the development of the huge informal sector of the Armenian economy. “The ‘business class’ combines [workers’] low wages and 12 and 14-hour work without holidays with evading taxes and periodically increasing the price of manufactured and sold goods,” the paper says. “The authorities not only fail to do anything serious about that but also themselves create this situation to share in the resulting huge profits.” The paper says officials from the tax collecting agencies themselves encourage and enable entrepreneurs to evade taxes in exchange for bribes.
“Golos Armenii” reports that the law-enforcement authorities have identified only two cases of bribery since the launch of the Armenian government’s anti-corruption program late last year. “And yet corruption, contrary to officials’ claims, has reached a radical scale and threatens the country’s independence.” The paper says the public is increasingly enraged by the government’s “inactivity” and “sponsorship” of corrupt officials. It dismisses the recent establishment by Kocharian of a special anti-corruption body as a “ploy to mislead, lull the public and international organizations.” “Members of that council will hardly want to fight against themselves.”