Political commentator Petros Ghazarian tells “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” that many Armenians will not be motivated to vote in next month’s presidential election. “People supporting the government will not go to the polls because the government candidate has no serious rival,” he says. “Opposition-minded citizens will not go either because there is no strong and consolidating opposition candidate. The main government task must be to bring people to polling stations and ensure a 80 percent vote [for Serzh Sarkisian.]”
“168 Zham” quotes Karapet Rubinian, a prominent opposition politician, as saying that the decision by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) to boycott the election was single-handedly made by its top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian. “They just tried to find some new explanation for their decision to abandon further struggle,” says Rubinian. He also believes that the opposition boycott could undermine the vote’s legitimacy only if there opposition leaders make “serious propaganda and logistical efforts.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” carries an interview with presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikian. He says he will feel sorry for Armenians if they do not vote for him in large numbers. “It’s not about [supporting] me, it’s about a person who has gone a long way and has a program,” says Hayrikian.
Tigran Mukuchian, the chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that pictures of President Sarkisian will not have to be removed from all Armenian schools that will serve as polling stations on February 18. “Each case should be discussed separately,” Mukuchian says, adding that Armenian law bans only a display of explicit campaign material in such locations.
“Aravot” quotes Marta Avagian, a former senior Foreign Ministry official, as saying that Armenia will eventually have to make a choice between European integration and membership of new Russian-led groupings of former Soviet republics. “I don’t know if it is already faced with a demand to make such a choice,” she says. “But that demand was presumed right from the beginning, and the existing reality is such that that choice will primarily be about not a Russian versus Western orientation but independence and sovereign cooperation versus absolute subordination. Modern-day Russia will never tolerate horizontal relations with modern-day Armenia.”