“Hraparak” says growing talk of a joint opposition candidate for next year’s presidential election will be unserious until there is unity within the Armenian opposition. “What is more pathetic is that the government side is playing the opposition game with satisfaction, pointing out that the opposition should have a single candidate,” the paper writes in an editorial. It is disappointed with the fact that Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) is being portrayed as an opposition group. It says this can only “deceive and disorient” the real opposition.
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” Stepan Safarian, a senior member of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, insists that there are no cracks in its alliance with another opposition, party, the Free Democrats. In particular, he says, the two parties agree that Zharangutyun leader Raffi Hovannisian should be their presidential candidate. He says they will start jointly preparing for the February 2013 elections after the summer vacations.
“Aravot” presumes that residents of Gyumri do not really care if their longtime mayor, Vartan Ghukasian, will keep his job after the September 9 local election or will be replaced by a member of a rival local clan affiliated with the BHK. “The leaders of the two groups with criminal inclinations … will be fighting for that post, hopefully without gunshots this time around,” writes the paper. “What will change as a result of that? Will people living in shacks for 24 years get decent homes? Will jobs be created for unemployed men? Or will the battered streets away from the city center be repaired? The fight is for administrative and economic levers.”
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” says that the Armenian authorities have no intention to investigate a U.S. businessman’s claims that he has paid hundreds of dollars in bribes to judges and state officials in Yerevan in 2003-2006 to ensure privileged treatment for his construction company. “Why is this the case? Because the Armenian authorities themselves decide in which cases to fight against corruption and in which cases to keep their heads in the sand,” claims the paper.
Varuzhan Hoktanian, director of the Armenian branch of Transparency International, discusses “systemic corruption” in Armenia in an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “The situation is slowly but steadily getting worse,” he says, adding that anti-corruption programs of the current and previous governments have not made a difference. “When corruption in a country is systemic there are two ways of combating it: regime change or, as they say, a demonstration of good will, when the authorities themselves start to fight against corruption in earnest,” says Hoktanian. “From the current regime I can only expect a reduction of petty corrupt practices.”