According to “Taregir,” the choice of the Armenian opposition’s potential single presidential candidates is narrowing to two individuals: former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukian. “Vazgen Manukian has already managed to make a bid because he is always ready to be a candidate,” comments the paper. “And if the first president at last expresses a desire to return to politics, our oppositionists will immediately get down to business: Manukian supporters will lambaste Ter-Petrosian and vice versa. And Serzh Sarkisian will easily become president.”
“More precisely, not Serzh Sarkisian but anyone preferred by [Robert] Kocharian,” continues “Taregir.” The pro-Ter-Petrosian paper claims that Manukian would be easily defeated by Kocharian’s preferred successor and that only the ex-president is capable of toppling the current regime.
“Aravot” reports, meanwhile, that several other opposition heavyweights -- among them Artashes Geghamian, Stepan Demirchian and Artur Baghdasarian -- gathered in a Yerevan restaurant on Thursday to discuss the issue of a joint opposition candidate. The paper says the meeting was initiated by Paruyr Hayrikian, a prominent Soviet-era dissident. “This meeting was not held for achieving concrete results,” Hayrikian is quoted as saying. He says the oppositionists simply shared their “concerns regarding the political situation in Armenia” and views on how to change it with each other.
“Ever since Armenia became independent there have been many politicians that have lost so many times that losing has become a habit for them,” writes “Hayk.” “And today many of those who claim to be in opposition have declared their presidential ambitions … They themselves understand their unseriousness of their step. It’s just that such candidates are probably managed from the same center and run [for president] in order to take away votes from the regime’s main rival.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says that contrary to police statements the fugitive son of Gyumri Mayor Vartan Ghukasian did not voluntarily surrender to the police last week. “For several days running, Vartan Ghukasian was explaining to his son that he must definitely endure punishment [for his role in a recent Gyumri shootout] and assuring his son that he will not stay behind bars for long because Vartanik has been assured at the highest level that his son will get a suspended prison sentence,” says the paper. “However, the mayor’s son was unconvinced.” It says Ghukasian then informed the police where to find and arrest his son. The latter is said to have resisted the arrest and been beaten up by police officers as a result.