“Hraparak” says that too many provincial residents of Armenia are ready to sell their votes or to vote for one or another candidate in return for material benefits provided to their families and communities. “They have thoroughly spoiled the voter in the past 15 years,” claims the paper. “The voter has realized that his vote will be stolen anyway and will not decide anything and therefore the only thing he stands to gain is handouts from would-be parliamentarians: cash or concrete work done by them. Those who do not manage to clinch anything feel cheated and fooled, while those who do clinch something feel satisfied and do not complain about election results.”
“168 Zham” also tries to explain why Armenians accept vote bribes, saying that poverty is a breeding ground for vote buying. The paper says poor people must not be judged harshly for selling their votes even at a modest price. “This, of course, does justify those who take vote bribes or distribute them,” it says. “On the contrary, this answers a question that can often be heard from circles close to the government: don’t the authorities want people to live well and seek to raise living standards and reduce poverty? No, they don’t because in that case at least one million people … could spurn vote bribes.”
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” says that the authorities will rely on vote bribes and “inflated” vote registers to rig the May 6 elections. This is why, it says, there will hardly be any trouble inside polling stations on voting day. “People will get vote bribes outside [precincts] and silently vote,” claims the opposition paper. “And mobile groups [of government backers] will shuttle from one precinct to another and vote in place of absent voters. In essence, the opposition stands no chance of fighting against this mechanism.” All the opposition can do to counter electoral fraud is to take to the streets, concludes the paper.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his political team must themselves face the kind of allegations which they have been making against Armenia’s current leadership. “Any sensible person is wondering who the accuser is,” writes the pro-government daily.
“Aravot” carries an editorial on the tenth anniversary of the controversial closure of the independent TV station A1+. The paper says the existence of the National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH), which pulled the plug on A1+, is becoming “more and more meaningless” because of the rapid spread of the Internet which erodes the significance of the Armenian government’s control of the airwaves.