(Saturday, February 25)
“Aravot” says the chief of President Robert Kocharian’s staff, Artashes Tumanian, had to resign over his decision to set up a political party. The paper suggests that Tumanian incurred Kocharian’s ire with his increased political ambitions or simply cut a deal with the president that would land him a new post after next year’s parliamentary election. “In the meantime, one can say two things for certain,” editorializes the paper. “Those who wanted to join [Tumanian’s] Nor Yerkir with the aim of getting a post from the Kocharian party will not join it. Secondly, Nor Yerkir will not after all be an opposition party.”
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Tumanian’s resignation came earlier than was expected. “In all likelihood, Robert Kocharian did not want Tumanian to hold the founding congress of his party in his capacity as chief of the presidential staff,” suggests the paper.
“168 Zham” says also sacked on Friday was head of the presidential administration’s human resources department, Hovannes Hovsepian. He is said to have joined Tumanian’s party.
“Aravot” quotes a parliament deputy from the Orinats Yerkir Party, Hovannes Markarian, as saying that the Constitutional Court has asked the National Assembly to pass a legal amendment that would make it impossible for lawmakers to withdraw their signatures from future appeals to the court. Markarian, who refused to withdraw support from an opposition petition against the ongoing construction in downtown Yerevan, says the parliament leadership agreed to the suggestion.
“The NKR should participate in negotiations on the conflict’s resolution,” General Seyran Ohanian, commander of the Karabakh Armenian army, is quoted by “168 Zham” as saying. Otherwise, warns Ohanian, international mediators would have to “start everything from scratch.”
For his part, parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian tells “168 Zham” that his Orinats Yerkir Party will do its best to ensure the freedom and fairness of the 2007 election. He says it is untroubled by the prospect of an electoral alliance between Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party and tycoon Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak,” meanwhile, accuses the Armenian parliament’s Audit Chamber of furthering the Orinats Yerkir agenda. The paper reacts to the publication of the chamber’s latest annual report which criticizes the use of public funds by some government ministries not controlled by Orinats Yerkir. It says the head of the chamber, Gagik Voskanian, and many employees are affiliated with Baghdasarian’s party.
“Azg” covers Voskanian’s Friday news conference, presenting details of his allegations about misuse of government funds. The paper notes that nobody has so far been prosecuted in connection with the critical findings of the Audit Chamber. “There therefore is no need to spend time and resources on detecting something which has long been known to all,” it says.