“The authorities are doing everything to draw as many candidates as possible into the [2008 presidential] elections,” writes “Aravot.” “It doesn’t have to happen as a result of haggling with every candidate. Also used are politicians’ celestial ambitions and unrealistic assessments of their chances. Naturally, the authorities are interested in recruiting many opposition or semi-opposition contenders because: a) the multi-voice noise made by politicians confuses voters; b) it splits the opposition electorate.”
“168 Zham” reports that opposition leader Artashes Geghamian was “summoned” a few days ago to an unspecified senior official from President Robert Kocharian’s staff for a meeting that focused on his participation in the presidential elections. The paper says Geghamian’s National Unity Party has shown “signs of revival” since the meeting. It claims that “activating Geghamian” is part of a pre-election plan drawn up by the presidential administration. “Interestingly, there were rumors in the run-up to the parliamentary elections that Geghamian’s actions are managed by the Armenian president’s office.”
In a separate report, “168 Zham” says several pro-Russian opposition politicians, including former Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian, have been holding negotiations on the possibility of nominating Harutiunian as their join presidential candidate. The paper says participants of the talks are known for their “personal ties with some Russian military circles,” suggesting that the latter are behind the discussions.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” alleges that two other well-known oppositionists, Shavarsh Kocharian and Arshak Sadoyan, are paid a “monthly wage” of $2,000 by Central Bank Chairman Tigran Sarkisian to spread discord within the opposition camp. It quotes an unnamed opposition politician as saying that Kocharian and Sadoyan had urged fellow members of the opposition Artarutyun in the former parliament to re-elect Sarkisian as Central Bank chairman.
“Hayots Ashkhar” asks Alvard Petrosian, a parliament deputy from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), to comment on Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s surprise September 1 visit to a Yerevan school run by Ashot Bleyan, a prominent government critic and supporter of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. “To be honest I was stunned [by the visit,]” says Petrosian. “But then I suddenly thought, ‘Here is a statesman aspiring to become president of the republic, and regardless of who will say yes or no to him, stretches his hand to everyone.’”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Nagorno-Karabakh’s parliament has moved to a new building in Stepanakert. The building’s main audience, as it turned out, has no seats for journalists.