(Saturday, September 24)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” writes that Artashes Tumanian, the chief of President Robert Kocharian’s staff, gave “the most nonsensical of all possible answers” to a journalist’s question about the ideological orientation of his political party: “I don’t know.” “That means Tumanian and his supporters will gather, decide to form a party and only then determine what ideas they espouse,” comments the paper. “This is perhaps the standard path which has been followed by virtually all Armenian political forces.” Tumanian, it says, will therefore bring nothing new to the Armenian political arena.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also emphasizes that Tumanian did not deny that he will use the next infrastructure projects to be implemented by U.S.-Armenian billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation for his own political purposes. The paper notes that during his reelection campaign Kocharian already claimed credit for $150 million that was spent by Lincy in 2001-2003. “Kocharian will not be [in the running] this time around and Tumanian will definitely try to put the laurels of glory for the work performed by Lincy on his head,” it claims.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Levon Mkrtchian, the parliamentary leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), as denying reports that the nationalist party wants a postponement of the November constitutional referendum. “We did not come up with such a proposal,” he says. The possibility of a referendum delay is effectively denied by Galust Sahakian of the Republican Party. “I don’t think there is a need for postponement,” he says.
“Panic within the government camp is obvious and is manifesting itself thorough Dashnaktsutyun’s periodical hints about the referendum’s postponement,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “If they see that they can not ensure a positive outcome of the referendum, they will postpone it.” Sarkisian also says that Armenia’s leading opposition parties “will act as a single and united team” during the referendum campaign.” “All those forces that are saying no to the constitutional changes will join forces and there is no alternative to that consolidation,” he says.
“Our authoritarian leadership is under the tutelage of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s equally authoritarian regime, while the opposition has split into two almost equal sections,” editorializes “Aravot.” “One section is looking for godfathers in Moscow, the other in Washington. But those games are not only humiliating but also meaningless for us.” The paper says both the West and Russia are “equally indifferent to our democracy problem.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reveals that Putin signed a decree on August 4 granting Russian citizenship to Armenia’s former energy minister, Karen Galustian. That means Galustian is no longer an Armenian national.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that the student council of Yerevan State University has decided to stop taking part in events organized by a staunchly pro-Kocharian youth organization called Baze (Hawk). “What is the purpose of Baze?” says Mihran Hakobian, chairman of the council. “For politicizing the youth, for utilizing it for the regime’s candidate in the next presidential election, for campaigning in the regions? We don’t think that we should participate in such an undertaking.”