(Saturday, January 26)
“Unfair elections, regardless who would benefit from them, are good for all of the [presidential] candidates,” writes “168 Zham.” Those who have no chance to win the election, argues the paper, would be able to blame their poor performance on vote rigging. “He who becomes president will occupy the post thanks to falsified ballots,” it says. “It is known to all of us that none of the nominated candidates enjoys the unconditional backing of the majority of the public.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” is already convinced that possible violations will not be serious enough to call into question the credibility of official vote results. The paper also says that presidential candidates who will refuse to recognize them must “act only by legal and constitutional means.” “In the event of keeping post-electoral process within the framework of democratic norms, our country will emerge in 2008 as the regional leader with its already formed culture of democratic elections,” it says.
“The election campaign will further escalate and promises will further multiply,” predicts “Azg.” “But to what extent candidates’ speeches will affect the [election] result is difficult to say. They have left the most difficult job to the people [by telling them:] ‘Pick one of the existing candidates. And never mind that there is no really brilliant and desirable candidate.”
“Levon Ter-Petrosian’s comeback has drastically changed the situation,” Aleksandr Iskandarian, director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Media Institute, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “Had it not been for him, the struggle for the presidential post would have been a purely managerial task. A similar struggle unfolded during the  parliamentary elections.” “Can a single personality break up the state apparatus?” asks Iskandarian. “Yes, he can. There have been such precedents in the world. Is it easy to do that? No, it’s extremely difficult.”
In an interview with “Aravot,” Nagorno-Karabakh’s former military leader, Samvel Babayan, stands by his pledge to disclose “crimes” committed by Armenia’s former leadership during the war with Azerbaijan. Babayan says he will make the promised scandalous revelations in his book which will be published soon. “I can’t say whether that will happen before or after the elections,” he says.
“The [macroeconomic] situation in Armenia is puzzling,” Bagrat Asatrian, who had served as chairman of Armenia’s Central Bank during Levon Ter-Petrosian’s presidency, tells “Zhamanak Yerevan.” “With low inflation and macroeconomic stability lasting for more than ten years, the prices of some goods are now higher than they are in Europe or the US where wages are ten times higher.” Even potatoes are more expensive in Armenia than in the West, according to Asatrian. “And this is the result of the authorities’ policies, including monetary policies which have benefited a few officials and individuals close to them,” he says.