(Saturday, November 24)
“Raffi has a problem,” reads a headline to a “168 Zham” analysis of the Armenian authorities’ refusal to recognize is eligibility to stand in the February 19 presidential election. “Staring from toady Raffi Hovannisian must decide whom to stand by in the upcoming presidential elections,” says the paper. “We hope he will not urge his electorate at the last minute to vote ‘in accordance with their conscience,’ which he usually does moments before National Assembly adopts key bills.”
“Aravot” reports that Grigor Amalian, chairman of the National Commission on Television and Radio, held a meeting with the heads of provincial television stations on Friday. The paper says he “strictly instructed” them not to air any campaign advertisements or statements by presidential candidates. One of the TV chiefs is quoted as saying that this applies to Serzh Sarkisian as well. He argues that Sarkisian’s promotion by the Armenian Public Television and other Yerevan-based channels is deemed sufficient by the authorities.
“Aravot” also quotes Hrant Markarian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) as dismissing reports that the nationalist party has offered Vazgen Manukian and Raffi Hovannisian the posts of prime minister and foreign minister in return for their endorsement of Dashnaktsutyun’s presidential candidate. “Meetings, consultations always occur,” says Markarian. “But those rumors about the composition of the future government are from the imaginary world.”
“It is evident that no political force active in the opposition field wants to have anything in common with this HHSh faction [led by Levon Ter-Petrosian,]” Samvel Nikoyan, a senior parliament deputy from the Republican Party, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Nikoyan accuses Ter-Petrosian and his allies of seeking to “fan pre-election tension” and to create “an atmosphere of public mistrust.” “They clearly understand that the people will never vote for them and the free and transparent elections will make their political bankruptcy and defeat even more palpable,” he says. “They are already looking for excuses.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that a key participant of a deadly 2005 gunfight in Yerevan, Levon Ghazarian, has been released from a prison where he was serving a four-year sentence. “According to reliable sources, the release of that crime figure has to do with the 2008 presidential election,” claims the paper. It says Ghazarian has already been spotted at a Yerevan café with Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial brother, Aleksandr.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the presidential election is also the main reason for the renewed appreciation of the Armenian dram. The paper says Sarkisian will need “lots of money” for his election campaign. “And the dram’s appreciation enables [his cronies] to earn additional revenues. In particular, importers, who are to finance the candidate of power during the forthcoming election, directly benefit from that,” it says, arguing that the prices of imported goods are not going down despite the stronger dram.