(Saturday, April 21)
“Golos Armenii” prints what it describes as the transcript of a conversation between former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian and an unnamed official from the British embassy in Armenia which was secretly recorded in a Yerevan restaurant recently. The diplomat is quoted as saying that President Robert Kocharian is strongly opposed to the involvement of U.S. and British observers in the upcoming Armenian elections. “He hates English people, it’s a fact,” Baghdasarian said, according to the paper. “I know, and that [feeling] is mutual,” responded the diplomat, adding that Kocharian “accepts only the Russians and the French.” The Russian-language paper does not disclose how it got hold of the purported audio of the conversation, saying only that the individuals who recorded it were driven by “patriotic motives.”
Another pro-government paper, “Hayots Ashkhar,” dismisses a survey conducted by the hitherto unknown Eurometer polling organization which found that Baghdasarian and his Orinats Yerkir Party are the most popular of the election contenders. Two famous local pollsters are quoted as saying that the poll is a fraud. One of them, Aharon Adibekian, claims that Orinats Yerkir’s real approval rating does not exceed 10 percent.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reacts to Central Election Commission Chairman Garegin Azarian’s assurances that the CEC is closely following media coverage of the election campaign. “Under the guise of a coverage of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s activities, propaganda of his Republican Party is being carried out every day,” writes the paper. “Although the CEC chairman is examining the press very attentively, somehow he does not notice this fact. It probably does not cross his mind that Serzh Sarkisian may break a law because he feels that Sarkisian himself is the law.”
A leading member of the Republican Party (HHK), Karen Karapetian, tells “Aravot” that the HHK will win at least four times more parliament seats under the first-past-the-post system than any other party or bloc. “That is, the number of Republican Party deputies in parliament will exceed that of the political force finishing second [in the elections] by 23-24,” he says. “That means the Republican Party will be the axis, the dominant force of the next National Assembly.”
“Hayk” quotes a senior member of TV host Tigran Karapetian’s People’s Party (ZhK) as admitting that the ZhK distributed eggs to residents of a northern Yerevan suburb. “Before the official start of the election campaign on April 8, we handed out ten eggs per head, a total of about 5,000 eggs, in Nor Nork,” says Artak Harutiunian.