“Aravot” comes up with what it says is a possible scenario of President Robert Kocharian staying in power for a third five-year term. “In February 2008, the presidential apparatus will write a text signed a group of famous intellectuals that will consist of the following. ‘Dear Robert Sedraki, we, a group of intellectuals are deeply concerned that after the 2008 presidential elections Armenia could find itself in the hands of a bunch of adventurers that will lead our country to ruin. Therefore, on behalf of our people we are cordially asking you to govern our state for another five years in order to ensure its stability and development.’” The paper says similar calls will be made by other sections of Armenian society.
“As a very law-abiding person, our president will not yield easily to the numerous requests of workers,” “Aravot” continues sarcastically. “He will first apply to the Constitutional Court known for its independence. The latter will tackle the issue very seriously and will spend three days on deliberations. After that [court chairman] Gagik Harutiunian will read out its verdict for three and a half hours and ordinary citizens will not understand its meaning.” The paper says state television will explain later in the day that this will be Kocharian first, not third, term in office.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” speculates that Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Larisa Alaverdian, has been “persecuted” by government officials because they think that she is increasingly behaving like a presidential candidate. “A group of individuals representing Armenia’s ruling oligarchy and aspiring to become Robert Kocharian’s successor have discerned presidential ambitions in Larisa Alaverdian’s actions,” the paper says. “And if you look at the ombudsman’s activities from this angle, those ambitions are easy to notice.”
“Aravot” reports that among businessmen accompanying Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on his two-week private trip to Western Europe are the brother of Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian, the owner of an Armenian mineral water company, Ashot Arsenian, and the owner of one of Armenia’s two main breweries, Ashot Baghdasarian. The paper says a similar “delegation” of government officials and businessmen led by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian will return to Yerevan in the coming days.
Interviewed by “Aravot,” opposition politician Hovannes Hovannisian says the upcoming local elections in Armenia will turn into a “farce.” Hovannisian, who himself held government posts in the past, says the polls will be decided by government levers, money and falsifications.