“Azg” says that $236 million in economic assistance provided by the United States will be good not only for Armenia as a whole but also its corrupt government officials that will not hesitate to pocket some of the money. “But if we continue to hold elections the way we have always done, this grant could get stuck in our throats,” warns the paper. “We Armenians may not be able to satisfy the seemingly simple condition of the U.S. government: continuation and deepening of democratic reforms.” Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian may have admitted that the elections of 2007 and 2008 will be a vital test for Armenia, but “it is clear that the elections do not depend on him or a reformed electoral code or corrected voter lists.” The individuals who are in a position to rig elections in Armenia do not necessarily consider care about the Millennium Challenge Account funds, concludes “Azg.”
“The Armenian authorities’ assurances that the 2007 parliamentary elections will be free, fair and transparent are simply devoid of any credibility,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” writes pessimistically. “Recent year’s internal political developments clearly show the impossibility of the fulfillment of that promise.”
“As the parliamentary elections approach, the psychology of public and political struggle in Armenia increasingly resembles the psychology of boxing,” says “Hayots Ashkhar.” The paper says that struggle is taking place not just between the Armenian government and the opposition but also within the two rival camps. Accordingly, any action taken by a particular politician or faction is seen as an affront to others.
“Aravot” reports on rumors about the impending dissolution of the opposition Artarutyun alliance. The paper says two of the Artarutyun forces, the People’s Party (HZhK) of Stepan Demirchian and the National Revival Party of Albert Bazeyan, will form a new, much smaller bloc. Nonetheless, HZhK spokesman Ruzan Khachatrian is quoted as calling the rumors unfounded. She argues that “the alliance was created with the aim of participating in the 2003 parliamentary elections and operating until the next elections of the National Assembly.” But another Artarutyun activist, Suren Sureniants, disagrees, saying that the bloc has reached its “political twilight.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Armenian government is “planning steps towards mitigating the [new] prices of gas” set by Russia. “We can solve the issue only through a government decision,” it quotes Prime Minister Andranik Markarian as saying. “The government has additional resources which it can hand out as a compensation. The Public Service Regulatory Commission has done its job. The rest is our job.”