“Haykakan Zhamanak” publishes the first results of its reader poll on who should be Armenia’s president. The paper says that as of Tuesday it received 105 special ballots carrying its logo and the names of potential candidates. Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian is leading the mock election with 57 votes, followed by Artashes Geghamian (17) and Stepan Demirchian (14). “This first tabulation does not provide grounds for making any conclusions yet,” the paper notes.
“Aravot” ridicules some intellectual and political circles’ religiously motivated opposition to the ongoing introduction of mandatory “social security cards” in Armenia. “There are only two dangerous things in Armenia: attacking Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian,” editorializes the paper. “So ‘coming out against the Satan’ is an extremely safe business because the tailed creature, unlike those two individuals, has no administrative or economic levers and therefore won’t deprive anyone of their posts and money…Where were those civic heroes when stacks of ballots were stuffed during the elections, when people were slaughtered on Baghramian [avenue] on the night of April 13 or when a young man was sentenced to 1 ½ years for hitting a policeman with an empty bottle?”
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun,” meanwhile, reports that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian turns 50 on Wednesday. “Statesman and military leader Serzh Sarkisian’s life and activities are already the property of history,” one of the powerful minister’s former university classmates writes in the government-funded paper. “He would come to lectures in the evening exhausted by physical work, but studied with honor. He liked grammar a lot,” the friend says, recalling their years at the Philology Department of Yerevan State University. He says many believed at the time that Sarkisian will become an Armenian language professor.
Garnik Isagulian, Kocharian’s national security aide, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that he believes the Armenian opposition has “no resources” to continue its struggle against the ruling regime. “But keep in mind that there will be more discussions on Armenia at the Council of Europe this autumn,” Isagulian adds. He claims that the opposition will rely on unspecified external forces to “provoke all kinds of trouble in Armenia.” The opposition may even opt for an armed resistance, he says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes the chairman of the Armenian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Armen Rustamian, as saying that Kocharian’s June 23 remarks in Strasbourg on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict helped to offset the recent “unfavorable” shift in the Council of Europe’s position on the issue. Rustamian is also glad that Kocharian’s vision of peace with Azerbaijan is “completely at odds” with the one favored by Ter-Petrosian.