(Saturday, February 17)
“In order to preserve his influence [Robert] has put all his money on Prosperous Armenia, stripping even Dashnaktsutyun of preferential treatment,” writes “Hayk.” “Kocharian is gradually forgetting the existence of the MAK [party] as well. “During the elections we will see an uncompromising struggle between two rival poles in which money will play the greatest role.”
“168 Zham” reports details of confidential talks held by several major opposition parties in recent days. The paper says the talks were hosted by Raffi Hovannisian at the offices of his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party and involved Stepan Demirchian, Aram Sarkisian and Vazgen Manukian. They looked into the possibility of forming an election alliance. “Demirchian said that he is forced by his HZhK to make sure that 60 places in the proportional list [of the would-be alliance] are given to the HZhK and the other 60 places are distributed among the three other parties: Zharangutyun, Hanrapetutyun and the AZhM. After listing these conditions Demirchian stressed that in case they are not met he won’t be able to join the opposition. But Vazgen Manukian strongly objected, saying that unless that the list [of candidates] is equally divided among the four parties, they will have to form an alliance without the HZhK.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armenia’s leading TV stations have refused to broadcast a paid announcement of a rally that will be held in Yerevan on Tuesday by Aylentrank, a newly formed opposition movement. The paper says one of the channels, the Dashnak-controlled Yerkir-Media, initially agreed to air the advert and even accepted an advance payment. Yerkir-Media officials later returned the money without any explanation.
“Hayots Ashkhar” lashes out at Samvel Babayan and his Dashink party, saying that the former Nagorno-Karabakh strongman has no moral right to speak of democracy and human rights given his track record in Karabakh. “When Dashink speaks of democracy and human rights, one gets the impression that the symbol of lawlessness that had for years reigned in Karabakh is a different Samvel Babayan,” the paper comments with sarcasm. “It was a different Samvel Babayan who was accused and convicted of [masterminding] an attempt on the life of the [Karabakh] president, something which can be characterized as terrorism. And when Dashink comes up with the notion of ‘illegality,’ you can not help but recall how Samvel Babayan used to deal in Karabakh with those who dared to say something going against his will.”