“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” accuses President Robert Kocharian of breaking his pledge to completely rebuild Armenia’s northern regions devastated by the 1988 earthquake by 2001. “Gyumri again left the impression of a disaster zone during the president’s latest visit there [on Thursday],” the paper says in a report on official ceremonies that marked the 18th anniversary of the earthquake. “Robert Kocharian did not meet ordinary people in Gyumri. He laid a wreath where he had to, held a secret meeting [with local government officials], and fled to Yerevan.”
“Unfortunately, we are forced to once again note a phenomenon … which is hard to describe as anything other than disrespect for thousands of still homeless and jobless people living [in Gyumri],” comments “Azg.” The paper points to statements by senior officials and their loyal media that Armenia no longer has a disaster zone. “Is this the result of ignorance or just a lie?”
“Hayk” claims that the Armenian authorities have no intention whatsoever to ensure that the forthcoming parliamentary elections are free, fair and transparent. “The Armenian authorities failed to learn a lesson from the Constitutional Court’s decision to strip judges of their seats in election commissions,” writes the paper, alleging that Kocharian and his allies will save no effort to rig the polls. “They will try to impose their will on the people and political forces, mindful of the fact that at stake is their future,” it adds.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports on the sacking of the long-time governors of Armenia’s Armavir and Lori regions. Citing government sources, the paper says that Armavir will now be run by the police chief of the south-eastern Syunik province, Ashot Ghahramanian, and Lori by Aram Kocharian, the current deputy head of the Social Security Fund. It says one of the reasons for Ghahramanian’s imminent appointment is his uneasy rapport with Syunik’s controversial governor, Surik Khachatrian, which could create “additional problems” for the governing Republican Party (HHK) in the 2007 elections.
According to “Iravunk,” the Lori governor, Henrik Kochinian, was fired because he was judged to have failed to make a sufficient contribution to the HHK’s standing in the northern Armenian region. The paper says Kochinian complied with only those HHK instructions that met his vested interests.