“Iravunk” reports that employees of the ArmenTel national telecommunications company are poised to go on strike. The paper says they have already formed a committee that will represent their interests during the anticipated protest.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that President Robert Kocharian’s chief of staff, Artashes Tumanian, will visit Iran on November 11-17. Tumanian, who is also the co-chairman of the Armenian-Iranian commission on economic cooperation, will meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the trip. “Thus Tumanian will become the first Armenian official to meet President Ahmadinejad. And what is more interesting, that will happen amid an international scandal provoked by the Iranian president’s infamous statement [on the need to destroy Israel],” comments the paper.
“Aravot” says Sunday’s parliamentary election in Azerbaijan was predictably fraudulent and calm. The paper believes that the outcome of the November 27 referendum in Armenia is less certain.
“The Armenian authorities will somewhat mimic Ilham Aliev’s steps, but the parallels may not be 100 percent [appropriate],” writes “Iravunk.”
Armenian Ambassador to Russia Armen Smbatian tells “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” that between 300,000 and 400,000 of Armenia’s eligible voters currently live in Russia. He says at least one third of them hold Soviet-era passports and the embassy will help them get Armenian passports and be able to take part in the referendum. The envoy also claims that most of Armenian citizens in Russia are “probable supporters of the constitutional changes” not least because those would lift the ban on dual citizenship.
“Iravunk” reports that the coalition of 17 opposition parties campaigning against the amendments have complained to the Western embassies in Yerevan that they are unable to run any advertisements on Armenian TV channels. The paper says the diplomatic missions “do not intend to react to that publicly.”
“If the degree of public awareness [of the constitutional changes] is raised, the people will vote for them,” Garnik Isagulian, Kocharian’s national security adviser, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Golos Armenii” notes that the upcoming referendum has forced the three parties represented in Kocharian’s government to “temporarily forget their differences and jointly engage in campaigning.” “But not everything is alright in the opposition camp,” says the paper. It says opposition leaders Stepan Demirchian, Artashes Geghamian and Aram Sarkisian have less-than-friendly relationships.
“The public is still unable to grasp the opposition stance,” writes “Iravunk.” “Some oppositionists are urging people to take part in the vote and say ‘no’ or invalidate ballots, while others support a boycott.” Hrant Khachatrian, a senior member of the Artarutyun alliance, is quoted as admitting that “this fact seems to be weakening the opposition’s positions.”