“Hayots Ashkhar” says that with his election as chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian took a “resolute but not the last step towards the universally accepted unification of the majority party and the supreme authority.” “By leading the HHK he is taking a certain risk because usually parties do not enjoy a lot of popularity in our country,” says the pro-Sarkisian paper. “It will now be more difficult for him to retain the sympathy of supporters of other parties … But the fact that Serzh Sarkisian took such a risk means that he is genuinely interested in the development of a politico-partisan system.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” predicts that Sarkisian will make more allegations against former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his administration. The paper says Sarkisian will in particular accuse Armenia’s former leadership of embezzling scarce energy resources supplied to the country in the early 1990s. He will claim, it says, that he had nothing to do with the alleged theft despite being in government at the time. But, according to the paper, that will not disprove the fact that Sarkisian was “one of the important pillars” of the Ter-Petrosian administration by virtue of heading Armenia’s most powerful security bodies at the time.
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” a senior HHK member, Armen Ashotian, rejects calls by a top Ter-Petrosian ally for a live televised debate between the former president and Sarkisian. Ashotian says the proposed debate is a ploy aimed at reducing Sarkisian’s “clearly high approval rating.” “I don’t think that Serzh Sarkisian and HHK members are obliged to boost others’ ratings and accept this kind of proposals now that a real [election] campaign format is non-existent,” he says.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” reports that several men who presented themselves as members of President Robert Kocharian’s “security service” visited this week an Internet café in Yerevan and demanded that its owner hand them the IP addresses of all of its computers. “This means that they now want to know which Internet sites are visited by people going to Internet cafes and who they are communicating with,” speculates the paper. “They probably suppose that confidential correspondence will be carried out not from offices or personal computers [of opposition politicians] but anonymous Internet cafes. It is hard to call this anything but a Stalin-style paranoia.”