“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that several top opposition leaders held an “extremely secret” meeting on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming parliamentary elections. “The presumed participants refused to give any details of the negotiations,” says the paper, reminding that the talks were due to explore the possibility of setting up a new broad-based opposition alliance.
“The pre-election tempers have frayed to such an extent that even Serzh Sarkisian and Vazgen Manukian, who have for years exercised caution against each other, have crossed swords,” writes “Taregir.” “This is another proof that for many people, especially Serzh Sarkisian and Vazgen Manukian, this is campaigning is not for the National Assembly elections but for the presidential elections.”
“They had come to terms in the Republican Party with the fact that they will cede the post of prime minister to the chairman of the party’s council, Serzh Sarkisian, after the 2007 elections,” says “Zhamanak Yerevan.” “Andranik Markarian was convinced that he will get the post of National Assembly chairman as a compensation. But just a few days before [Justice Minister] David Harutiunian became a Republican rumors emerged that Robert Kocharian has promised the post of National Assembly chairman to David Harutiunian.”
Meanwhile, Kocharian’s spokesman Victor Soghomonian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that many of those complaining about high prices of campaign ads set by the TV channels spend their holidays in expensive foreign resorts. “Surely, the sums they spend on that by far exceed the prices set by the TV companies,” he says.
According to “Hayk,” not only Russian but French, Ukrainian and even Kazakh companies are taking an interest in managing Armenia’s state-owned railway. “But it is not difficult to predict that the tender [for a management contract] will be won by a Russian company,” says the paper. “Independent experts believe that the strategy of handing over the railway to the Russians is aimed at completely neutralizing the threat of a revolution in Armenia.”
“Aravot” reports that the election monitoring mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States will begin its work in Armenia early next month. “So one should stop worrying about the transparency of our elections,” the paper comments bitingly. “They will be as transparent as homemade vodka to which the CIS observers will be treated in all regions of Armenia. There is no doubt that the work schedule of the CIS mission will be extremely tight. Garni, Geghard, Echmiadzin, the Yerevan brandy factory. The latter point will particularly help the observers make sober and objective evaluations.”