(Saturday, August 25)
“Zhamanak Yerevan” asserts that the main focus of President Robert Kocharian’s latest talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin was the issue of who should succeed the Armenian leader next year. “The president of Russia found unacceptable the possibility of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian being that candidate and offered [Kocharian] to find another candidate for the post of president who would be more acceptable to Russia,” claims the paper. “Such a negative attitude towards Serzh Sarkisian is explained by the warming of Armenia’s ties with NATO and the USA that has resulted from policies pursued by Serzh Sarkisian.” Russia, it says, is particularly unhappy with Yerevan’s decision to send troops to Iraq.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the U.S. embassy in Yerevan has confirmed that the U.S. charge d’affaires, Rudolf Perina, met with Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. The embassy is cited as explaining that Perina holds meetings with various Armenian politicians and government officials as part of his job. The paper says the meeting with Ter-Petrosian was initiated by the U.S. mission. “Levon Ter-Petrosian’s office refused to comment on the meeting,” it says. “Our sources in the U.S. embassy note, however, that the main topic of the conversation was the internal political situation in Armenia and possible developments. Like many Armenians, the American diplomats wondered if Ter-Petrosian will participate in the upcoming presidential elections.”
“Hayk” reports that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) will nominate one of its leaders, Armen Rustamian, as the party’s presidential candidate. “Dashnaktsutyun will officially announce its decision after a party congress to be held in mid-September,” says the paper. “According to our sources, the candidacies of Vahan Hovannisian, Hrant Markarian and Artur Aghabekian were also discussed but the ‘old comrades’ preferred Rustamian.”
“We keep hearing [from opposition leaders] for the past ten years that the authorities are in panic and even in their death throes, and dates and hours are being set for regime change” a senior Dashnaktsutyun member, Spartak Seyranian, tells “168 Zham.” “But as you can see, the authorities are in control … My impression is that, in fact, it is the opposition which is in panic because those people still can’t reach a common denominator on whether it is better [for them] to unite or not to unite, who is the most suitable single [presidential] candidate and so on.”