“Hraparak” says that Armenia is again facing a loss of its voting rights at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) following this week’s meeting in Spain of the PACE Monitoring Committee. The paper wonders what the Armenian authorities will do now to prevent the sanctions. It says they hoped that the recent amendments to the Criminal Code will appease the PACE and spare them the need to free the “political prisoners.”
“Aravot” calls for the passage of a law banning schoolteachers and university lecturers from joining any political party and taking part in election campaigns. The paper says the law must also bar them from being members of election commissions, candidate proxies and observers. It says the common practice of opening polling stations inside schools and universities should also be prohibited. The paper believes that these restrictions should remain in place until “we are able to hold normal elections.”
In an interview with “Iravunk,” Suren Zolian, a political pundit and university rector, criticizes the fact that the upcoming mayoral elections in Yerevan will be held solely under the system of proportional representation. He also speaks out against a legal provision whereby the top candidate of a party of bloc winning over 40 percent of the vote automatically becomes Yerevan mayor. “One has the impression that [the provision] is meant for a party that will never get more than 40 percent of the vote in Yerevan,” Zolian says in an apparent reference to the ruling Republican Party (HHK).
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” downplays pro-government pollsters’ admission that not only the HHK but the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) can clear the 40 percent vote threshold in the May 31 elections. The opposition paper says the pollsters are thereby trying to show that they are really impartial and don’t rig polling data. “Once the election campaign starts they will get concrete orders and they will present concrete figures,” it says. “Besides, the pollsters are solving a concrete issue: making their services more expensive by getting the authorities worried.”
Artashes Shahbazian, a parliament deputy from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that contrary to opposition claims, the HHK and the HAK will not be the sole real election contenders. Shahbazian calls such statements a “campaign ploy.”
“Kapital” reports on what it sees as continuing delays with the release of a $500 million Russian loan to Armenia. The paper quotes Finance Minister Tigran Davtian as saying on Thursday that the loan will likely be made available in late June. One of Davtian’s deputies, Pavel Safarian, last week spoke of late May or early June as the likely dates for its disbursement.