“Hayots Ashkhar” denies a newspaper report that senior Armenian officials who accompanied President Robert Kocharian during his February 17-21 trip to France gambled and lost 1.2 million euros in a casino in Nice. The paper argues that contrary to the claims made by “Haykakan Zhamanak” on Wednesday, Yerevan Mayor Yervand Zakharian and Trade Minister Karen Chshmaritian were not among those officials. “After noting this fact, it just makes no sense to bore readers by exposing other lies contained in the false information,” it says.
“168 Zham” reports on alleged squabbles and bickering within the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). The paper claims that two leaders of “Armenia’s arguably most closed and organized party,” Hrant Markarian and Mikael Manukian, are locked in a dispute over a popular café in central Yerevan which they are believed to jointly own.
“Aravot” says the main message of pro-government election candidates is that “in order to be of use to the people, you have to either in government or have close ties with it.” “Only by being a government man can you do business, avoid paying taxes and spend a fraction of those unpaid taxes (i.e., money stolen from the people) on ‘charitable work’ and thereby benefit the people,” the paper comments sarcastically.
According to “Golos Armenii,” many Armenians are cynical and indifferent to the election campaign because the discourse of many politicians is irrelevant to their day-to-day lives and problems. Whatever the outcome of the elections, writes the Russian-language paper, the voter turnout is unlikely to be high.
“Hayk” reports that Levon Sargsian, a controversial businessman and parliamentarian close to Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, is rumored to have been interrogated on Wednesday as part of the ongoing investigation into the September 2006 killing of tax official Shahen Hovasapian. The paper insists that the man arrested and charged with committing the crime is a member of Sargsian’s entourage, adding that the latter now risks being himself prosecuted. “It remains to be seen whether he will be arrested before or after the elections.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” reports that the Republican Party (HHK) will contest the elections with both “traditional methods and new techniques.” The paper says the HHK board has decided which individuals will be authorized to make statements on behalf of the party. “As a result, it was decided that the HHK campaign manager, Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian, must not give interviews to media. He will only deal with logistical issues.”