“Hayots Ashkhar” predicts that “external factors” will play a major role in the upcoming Armenian parliamentary elections. The paper says foreign powers will be keen to influence election result in a way that would suit their interests. It says this will make political struggle in the country even more tense and uncompromising.
“Iravunk” does not exclude the possibility of pre-term presidential elections in Armenia. “Serzh Sarkisian is interested in such a scenario,” claims the paper. “Significantly, Sarkisian, who has privatized many posts, has entered the fray as an underdog. His actions are somewhat jittery and desperate. Serzhik understands well that unless he tries to seize power he will at best end up like [the fugitive former Interior Minister] Vano Siradeghian.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” calls for a close inspection of big fortunes made by Armenia’s government-connected “oligarchs.” “We can already guess that they rest on pensioners’ benefits in the form of unpaid social security benefits, teachers’ salaries in the form of unpaid taxes, billions [of drams] worth of damages inflicted on the state by means of bogus exports and bogus offshore firms,” editorializes the paper. It says those who hand out agricultural aid and other vote bribes are simply “giving back a tiny proportion of what was stolen from the people.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian celebrated the New Year in a Moscow casino before proceeding to the German spa resort of Baden-Baden on January 1. The paper says Markarian was accompanied by Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian and parliament deputy Ashot Arsenian.
“Aravot” reports that two outspoken parliamentarians, Manuk Gasparian and Arshak Sadoyan, have decided to jointly contest the parliamentary elections. The paper says their respective political parties may soon be merged into a single organization. “It is possible that they will be joined by three other [prominent] figures,” it says, citing Gasparian. The latter is also quoted as claiming that the new force could get as much as 15 percent of the vote. “But if Arshak and I remain alone, I’m sure we will pass the 7-8 percent [vote] threshold,” says Gasparian.