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Press Review


(Saturday, November 12)

“Many think that for Robert Kocharian November 27 will be what [the 1815 battle of] Waterloo was for [Napoleon] Bonaparte,” writes “Azg.” “At Waterloo, the [British-led] coalition managed to close ranks and clinch victory from the monarch at the last minute. Here, however, the opposition is still failing to unite no matter how much it says ‘no’ to the constitutional draft.”

“Aravot” says Armenian officials have invented a new form of referendum campaigning: a silent one. The paper says Manvel Badalian, head of a government body overseeing Armenia’s civil service, and constitutional lawyer Armen Harutiunian visited on the Agricultural Academy in Yerevan to urge a “yes” vote at the referendum. Unlike Harutiunian, Badalian did not utter a single word during the meeting with academy staff and students. “He simply sat at the podium throughout the meeting and called for a ‘yes’ vote with his silent presence,” comments the paper.

Levon Khachatrian, a parliament deputy close to Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian, assures “Aravot” that most Armenians embrace President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional reform as soon they hear a clear explanation of what it is all about. “The existing constitution is good for any president,” he argues. “Nobody will change it if we fail to push through [the amendments]. And we must push through because we don’t want to have a new monarch. The existing constitution is monarchic.”

“Hayots Ashkhar” says many of the political parties involved in the referendum campaign care not so much about constitutional reform as the parliamentary elections 2007. In this context the pro-establishment paper predicts the creation of a “new, fairly strong pro-government coalition” comprising some of Armenia’s wealthiest persons. It suggests that instead of sponsoring one or another party the so-called oligarchs will set up their own organization to contest the 2007 polls.

According to “168 Zham,” the most powerful of those oligarchs, Gagik Tsarukian, has already formed his party called Prosperous Armenia. The paper says he intends to have a “big faction” in the next Armenian parliament. The faction would include “a number of prominent entrepreneurs and politicians.” “In order to have a majority in the National Assembly, Gagik Tsarukian will form an alliance before the [2007] elections with the People’s Party of [TV station owner and commentator] Tigran Karapetian and the newly created ZhUK party of [parliament deputy] Manuk Gasparian.”

“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” reports that an Armenian government delegation led by Artashes Tumanian, chief of Kocharian’s staff, left for Iran on Friday for talks with new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “There has been a change of president in Iran and we and the country’s new leadership will make attempts at reaffirmation of our ongoing programs with Iran,” Tumanian is quoted as saying.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Vano Siradeghian, Armenia’s fugitive former interior minister, was due to mark his 59th birth anniversary on Sunday with his “inner circle of friends.” “There are reports that some serving high-level officials were also invited to the birthday party,” the paper sympathetic to Siradeghian says without specifying where it will take place.

(Hrach Melkumian)
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