Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” a parliament deputy from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Artashes Shahbazian, dismisses talk of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s possible participation in the upcoming presidential election. “We are talking about something which doesn’t exist today,” he says. “What is happening today is a check-up of the public mood. The same thing happened before the previous elections.” According to Shahbazian, Ter-Petrosian’s comeback would only create confusion among opposition leaders. “And it is still hard to tell who will gain and who will lose from that, whether that will help or hinder the opposition,” he says.
Another potential opposition candidate, Vazgen Manukian, tells “Aravot” that the current Armenian government suffers from the same “disease” which affected its predecessors. “The government is always supremely confident that it is the strongest, smartest and so on,” he says. “At the same time, it is very worried about losing power. The government both underestimates and overestimates its rivals. One the one hand, Serzh Sarkisian is sure that he will win [the 2008 election.] On the other, he very much fears that a united force could be formed against him and wrest power from him.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” laments that it sees as a lack of a “real fight against corruption” in Armenia. “The example of Serzh Sarkisian alone testifies to that,” editorializes the paper. “The current prime minister has spent his summer vacations in the most expensive European resorts and casino capitals for the past several years. There are various reports about his casino losses, but this, in effect, does not generate public reaction. For example, who pays for Serzh Sarkisian’s stay at the most luxurious hotels in Baden-Baden? Whose money does he spend at Baden-Baden and Monte-Carlo casinos? Whose money does he use to hire a private jet and travel from one to another European city? Of course, it is our parliamentary opposition which is primarily able to ask such questions during question-and-answer sessions in parliament. However, no such cases have been registered in Armenia to date.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” claims that the Armenian government is going to great lengths to convince the Lebanese owner of Armenia’s largest mobile phone operator, VivaCell, to sell it to Russia’s MTS telecom giant. The paper says MTS is ready to pay up to $700 million for VivaCell. “However, the latter is categorically rejecting all such offers,” it says.