“Zhamanak Yerevan” seeks to explain why President Robert Kocharian avoided seeking a third term in office. “One and probably the main reason for not doing that is that [Russia’s] Vladimir Putin himself opted out of that path,” speculates the paper. “He too is trying to convince the international community that he is committed to Russia’s democratization,” it says. According to the paper, Kocharian decided to quit also because of his “obligation to Serzh Sarkisian” and because he wants to be at last regarded by the international community as a “legitimate leader.” Kocharian, it claims, may hope to “stage a new coup” with the help of the Dashnaktsutyun and Prosperous Armenia parties and return to power “after toppling Serzh Sarkisian.”
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” insists that Levon Ter-Petrosian can not be considered the Armenian opposition’s main presidential candidate. The government paper says claims to the contrary made by the former president’s allies testify to “hidden panic” reigning in the Ter-Petrosian camp.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian visited the southern Vayots Dzor region on New Year’s eve to meet local government and law-enforcement officials and urge them to campaign for Sarkisian’s victory in the presidential election. The opposition paper quotes Hovsepian as telling them that Ter-Petrosian will withdraw his candidacy mid-way through the election campaign. “That Levon Ter-Petrosian will go to the end and, if need be, even further is known to Hovsepian,” retorts the paper.
Zaruhi Postanjian, an opposition parliamentarian, tells “Aravot” that the MIAK, a small party led by an aide to Sarkisian, has begun campaigning for the prime minister in violation of Armenia’s Electoral Code. Campaigning for the presidential election has still not officially started. “And yet the MIAK is already disseminating propaganda material,” says Postanjian. “Money spent on it is supposed to come from the candidate’s pre-election fund which has to be set up the day after the candidate’s registration. The Central Election Commission must definitely react to this violation.”
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” a parliament deputy from tycoon Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) denies opposition claims that BHK members are not unanimous in supporting Sarkisian’s presidential bid. “There are and there can be no disagreements in Prosperous Armenia on the issue of supporting Serzh Sarkisian’s candidacy,” says Naira Zohrabian. “All Prosperous Armenia structures will do everything in their power to ensure Serzh Sarkisian’s victory on February 19.”