In its first editorial of 2008, “Aravot” draws parallels between ordinary people’s shopping spree preceding New Year’s and Christmas celebrations and politicians’ preparations for the February 19 presidential election. The paper says that housewives cook a lot more food that will be eaten by their family members and guests, while presidential candidates tour the country and tell voters that their failure to get elected would mean the end of the world.
Citing “sources close to the Republicans,” “Hayk” claims that Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian has urged President Robert Kocharian not to register Levon Ter-Petrosian’s presidential candidacy. The paper sympathetic to the former president says Sarkisian cited the results of “independent opinion polls” that show a high degree of popular support for Ter-Petrosian. Sarkisian is quoted as expressing concern at the same time that failure to register Ter-Petrosian would put Armenia on a collision course with both the West and Russia. The paper adds that Kocharian said it is up to Sarkisian to decide what to do. The latter is said to have worried privately that if Ter-Petrosian gains access to the airwaves with the start of the election campaign “the situation will become uncontrollable.”
A deputy chairman of Sarkisian’s Republican Party, Galust Sahakian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the upcoming election, which he expects to be free and fair, will not only determine Armenia’s next president but make the political landscape “more healthy.” “Also, the political role of parties will clear up,” he says.
“In theory, Armenia’s ruling regime allows the existence of opposition parties,” editorializes “Zhamanak Yerevan.” “In practice, however, electronic media outlets and possibilities of conducting broad election campaigns and mass actions of protest or establishing restoring justice by legal means is off limits to them. Widespread repressions used against oppositionists in the past month … are vivid proof of that. In such Armenia democracy is impossible. And if the pronounced opposition candidate or candidates have decided to wage a political struggle in conformity with the letter and spirit of law, they must be reminded that we already went through that and lost in 2003.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes that in his recent public appearances Serzh Sarkisian wore the kind of a casual jacket which Russia’s President Vladimir Putin likes to wear on informal occasions. “This suggests that in a bid to boost his image Sarkisian can’t think of anything other than aping the president of the Russian Federation,” the opposition paper says scornfully.