(Saturday, March 31)
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” comments on Samvel Babayan’s decision to withdraw his candidacy from an electoral district in the Syunik region which is now expected to be carried by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s brother Aleksandr. “This, no doubt, was a nice gift to Serzh Sarkisian not because if Babayan did not withdraw his candidacy he would win, but because in that case Serzh Sarkisian would have to take very tough steps and undoubtedly create a lot of noise,” says the paper. “In essence, Samvel Babayan saved him from that noise. What [Babayan] will get in return is hard to say. But that the two men now have all the prerequisites to play in the same field is certain.”
“Aravot” sees a smear campaign against Nagorno-Karabakh army commander Seyran Ohanian which it says is aimed at preventing his appointment as Armenia’s defense minister. The paper points to a “compromising” DVD recording allegedly circulating in Yerevan that accuses Ohanian, a former Soviet army officer, of participating in the 1991 attack by Soviet troops and Azeri police forces on Armenian-populated villages north of Nagorno-Karabakh. “There are also rumors that Samvel Babayan may be appointed Armenia’s defense minister,” it says.
“Opposition parties are busy not so much preparing for the elections as spitting at each other with great pleasure,” writes “Golos Armenii.” “In the forthcoming parliamentary elections, the opposition’s main rival will be not the government but the opposition itself,” it adds. The paper explains that the opposition party that wins the largest number of votes on May 12 will stake a claim to the status of the regime’s main challenger in next year’s presidential election.
“Hayots Ashkhar” compares the Armenian elections to a beauty contest. “Unlike the beauties who are at pains to underline the diameter of their eyes, chest and waist, the ‘gentlemen’ are trying to show the breadth of their hearts enduring the people’s pain,” the paper says, adding that it is proportional to the “breadth of their necks and bellies.” “They are trying to convince [voters] that they have the most realistic, scientific and effective programs to turn Armenia into a paradise.” According to those programs, Armenians should only “elect them and step aside.” “The rest will be done by them,” the paper concludes sarcastically.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” quotes Gagik Tsarukian’s mother Roza as rejecting suggestions that the businessman’s Prosperous Armenia Party would fall apart the moment President Robert Kocharian stops supporting it. “Robert Kocharian doesn’t love Gagik Tsarukian,” she claims. “Gagik Tsarukian is loved by 400,000 people.” Roza Tsarukian goes on to describe her son as the “number one man in the republic” and does not deny that he is evading taxes. “Should we pay taxes so that they go and play in [a casino in] Monte Carlo?” she asks angrily. “I’m sorry, but I give [money] to poor people, kindergartens, hospitals. What I’ve given to the state is enough.”