According to “Iravunk,” the United National Progressive Party (MIAK), a little-known election contender, was set up recently a group of Western-educated young professionals as part of a joint “political project” launched by the chief of Robert Kocharian’s staff, Armen Gevorgian, and Armen Sarkisian, Armenia’s London-based former prime minister. “The MIAK is a project with far-reaching goals and its participation in these election is only the beginning,” the paper says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” continues to deplore what it calls a lack of “substantive debates” in the Armenian parliament campaign. “Our politicians talk about themselves and their rivals with the help of old phrases which they have for years been using without any changes,” writes the paper. “And pollsters sadly complain that when making a choice voters are guided not by programs but a candidate’s personality or, more precisely, their views on it. But what should guide the poor voter? Voters will go to the polls totally uninformed about the real intentions of parties and candidates.”
“Azg” says that the May 12 elections will not be free at least in remote villages in the Gegharkunik region where poverty is widespread and most village mayors are affiliated with the Republican Party of Armenia.” “When officials talk to villagers during pre-election meetings they never say what they think. They are even cautious when talking to journalists,” reports the paper. “When saying important things, they lower their voice and look around them.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” accuses the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) of handing out vote bribers in a big village in another Armenian region, Aragatsotn. The paper quotes unnamed local residents as saying that they have received 5,000-dram bills (worth $14) sealed in envelopes. The paper also says that the Republican Party distributed agricultural assistance and even refrigerators in Tashir, a town in the northern Lori region. “In effect, political forces are competing with vote bribes, rather than ideas,” it concludes grimly.
“Hayk” reports that the Orinats Yerkir Party leader Artur Baghdasarian has been interrogated by the National Security Service over his secretly recorded conversation with an official from the British embassy in Yerevan. “After answering all questions, Artur Baghdasarian continued his campaign,” the paper says. An Orinats Yerkir spokesman is quoted as denying the report.
“Taregir” reports that the Armenian police are being put on high alert to deal with possible post-election demonstrations. “Some policemen are already gloating that they are ready to beat up the people,” claims the paper. It says they are confident that the opposition stands no chance of toppling the government and are “already tired of constant surveillance of street demonstrations.”