(Saturday, October 10)
“October 27 was their day, November 27 will be our day,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” Sarkisian claims the November constitutional referendum will result in regime change in Armenia.
“The authorities know very well that it is better to have a clean constitutional referendum, even if the draft does not win the necessary number of votes, than to falsify its results and have problems with the outside world,” a senior member of the governing Republican Party, Samvel Nikoyan, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” quotes John Evans, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, as reaffirming U.S. support for the Armenian leadership’s constitutional changes at a seminar on Friday. Evans admitted that getting at least one of third of Armenia’s 2.4 eligible voters to say yes at the referendum is not an easy task. The voter turnout will therefore be critical, he said.
“Aravot” reports that Evans also stressed that the Armenian authorities should already start preparations for ensuring the freedom and fairness of the next presidential and parliamentary elections. He said the United States will do its best to assist in their proper conduct.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments on the authorities’ failure to name a single manager of their pre-referendum campaign. The paper says officials and pro-presidential politicians realized that they need to pick an intellectual widely respected by the population. “But it did not take Kocharian’s regime long to understand that there only remain neighborhood ‘authorities’ in Armenia, while moral authorities do not exist.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” claims that the long-running feud between Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is again coming to the fore. “The probable reason is that the next presidential elections are approaching and the fight for Kocharian’s succession is intensifying.” The paper suggests that Sarkisian was behind last week’s incriminatory “open letter” by Armenak Mnjoyan, a former Dashnaktsutyun member who is serving a life sentence for a political murder which he allegedly committed a decade ago. The paper says the letter addressed to Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian contained “numerous criminal accusations” directed at the nationalist party’s leadership.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says all parliamentary factions except speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir “see nothing good” in the start of partial compensation of Soviet-era savings deposit holders. The paper says the parties other than Orinats Yerkir regard the public funds set aside for that purpose as a “pittance.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says a flurry of diplomatic activity in Yerevan makes nonsense of opposition claims about Armenia’s growing “international isolation.” “In the last ten days Armenia has been visited by three presidents and vice-presidents, one prime minister, four delegations from CIS countries, two delegations from NATO and three delegations from the European Union, the Council of Europe and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly,” says the paper.