In an extensive interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Gagik Tsarukian, one of Armenia’s richest and most powerful “oligarchs,” confirms reports that he has set up a political party. “That party is called Prosperous Armenia,” he reveals. “The party will soon be reinforced by new and able forces and will present its clear message to the people. I see some unsolved problems in both the socioeconomic and political fields. I believe that our party, which will be a party of strong and clean people, will be able to make its contribution to solving those problems.”
Tsarukian also says he conducted a “full-fledged” campaign in support for President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional amendments in the town and surrounding villages. (The area is considered his unofficial fiefdom.) “I met with students, teachers, representatives of condominiums and all other strata to explain the need for those changes,” he says. “People trusted and believed in me and voted for [the amendments] in Abovian,” he says.
“Aravot” says that instead of investigating fraud allegations, state prosecutors are challenging journalists to prove that the referendum was rigged. “The prosecutor’s office could do that in two days if it wanted to,” editorializes the paper. “They can go to any precinct commission, pick papers in which commission members fixed numbers and check whether the persons listed in those papers really exist and, if so, whether they took part in the referendum. But instead of solving the crime, our law-enforcement bodies are trying to cover it up. They summon those observers, who dared to protest against falsifications, and promise to get them in trouble.”
“I sometimes think that the outside world is unable to find anyone in Armenia who would be ready to carry out a ‘colored’ revolution at any cost,” a senior member of the Artarutyun bloc, Hrant Khachatrian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” “There aren’t such individuals both in the government and opposition camps.” Khachatrian says this is proof of the fact that “nobody is ready to become an absolute stooge of any external force.”