(Saturday, March 25)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries an extremely rare interview with Vano Siradeghian, Armenia’s fugitive former interior minister. The paper starts it by asking Siradeghian to reveal his mysterious place of residence. “If I’m not in Armenia, why should you care where I am now?” he replies. “All I can say is that I am not in any of the three countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.” He says he has done “almost nothing” since fleeing Armenia six years ago. “I haven’t written a novel and don’t want to write memoirs,” explains the former writer.
Turning to the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Siradeghian claims that President Robert Kocharian has now two options: to resign or restart the war with Azerbaijan. “I think that the resignation is more likely,” he speculates. Siradeghian goes on to slam Armenia’s present opposition for failing to seize power following the last presidential election. He further says the past eight years have demonstrated that “there is no alternative to [former President Levon] Ter-Petrosian.” “Ter-Petrosian’s return will not be easy but it is within the possibility limits of political techniques. That will require that the Armenia-based forces, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, and the national bourgeoisie unite and go for pre-term parliamentary elections.” Those forces, he says, should include the opposition Hanrapetutyun, People’s and HHSh parties as well as the governing Republican Party and Orinats Yerkir.
Siradeghian suggests a legal mechanism for expediting Ter-Petrosian’s return to power. Armenia’s Constitutional Court, he says, should declare unconstitutional the Armenian parliament’s acceptance in 1998 of Ter-Petrosian’s resignation, after which the latter should assume the presidential duties and call fresh parliamentary and presidential elections. The once powerful ex-minister also repeats his rejection of serious criminal accusations leveled against him by Armenian prosecutors, implying that he will not return to Armenia as long as Kocharian remains in power.
Pro-Kocharian tycoon Gagik Tsarukian assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that efforts to flesh out his ambitious Prosperous Armenia party are going on in full swing. “We are not in a hurry,” he says. “The [party’s] founding congress will likely take place this autumn. We don’t talk much and work instead because we don’t want our words and actions to differ from each other.” Tsarukian says he has already cobbled together “intellectual and student wings” of his party.
“Aravot,” meanwhile, quotes Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikian as pouring scorn on Tsarukian and other Armenian “oligarchs” increasingly involved in politics.
“Azg” reports that another pro-establishment party has been formed by a leading member of the People’s Deputy parliamentary group and a lawmaker close to Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian. The party has been named the Union for Armenia, it says.
“Aravot” thinks that the party will bring together many activists of Hovsepian’s supposedly apolitical Nig-Aparan organization and serve as his new power base.
“168 Zham” carries what it presents as shady details of the former presidential chief of staff Artashes Tumanian’s and his relatives’ business activities. “Artashes Tumanian’s activities undertaken during his time as the head of the presidential staff may serve as the best proof and example of how Armenian officials turn into big and small oligarchs by abusing their position,” alleges the paper.