(Saturday, April 19)
“These [presidential] elections have cost us dearly,” writes “Azg.” “Not just because ten people lost their lives as a consequences of post-election developments, but also because political processes that unfolded during these elections penetrated into interpersonal relationships and turned many people into enemies … And although things are seemingly peaceful [at the moment,] nothing has changed, and right now supporters of one [political leader] are ready to rip apart supporters of another. What kind of a people are we?”
“There is no market-based economy in Armenia,” Hrant Bagratian, a former prime minister and opposition politician, writes in “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “What we have is an economy managed by Robert Kocharian’s and Serzh Sarkisian’s orders.” Bagratian claims that the country’s leading “oligarchs” are not real businessmen as “they know very well that if they find themselves in a competitive environment their businesses will go bankrupt.” “The only way to avoid bankruptcy is to cling to the political authority and beg for a monopoly and to provoke illegalities and disturbances on election days,” he says. “The degree of the centralization of Armenia’s economy is now even higher than it was in Communist times. Twenty percent of the economy is in the hands of Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian, and together with the above-mentioned oligarchs they control nearly half of the economy.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes an aide to President Serzh Sarkisian as saying that Alcee Hastings, a congressman chairing the U.S. Helsinki Commission, recalled Levon Ter-Petrosian’s controversial conduct of the Armenian presidential election of 1996 during last week’s congressional hearings on Armenia. According to Vigen Sargsian, who testified at the hearings, Hastings questioned Ter-Petrosian’s moral right to demand free elections.
According to “Hayk,” Tigran Sarkisian has said that he was chosen as Armenia’s new prime minister by Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian. “What is Robert Kocharian to with the issue of prime minister?” asks the opposition paper. “What about the constitution, the laws, the Republican majority in parliament, other forces, the so-called coalition? Tigran Sarkisian is saying a very clear thing: the decision-makers don’t give a damn about all this. It is Kocharian who solved the issue of prime-ministerial candidacy after consulting with Serzh Sarkisian.”
“Aravot” reports that the wife of Orinats Yerkir Party leader Artur Baghdasarian gave birth to their third child, a girl, on Friday. The paper says the newly-born baby was named Gabriela and details her weight and height. It wishes her to become a “happy citizen of new Armenia.”