Citing the Central Election Commission (CEC), “Zhamanak” reports that campaigning for Armenia’s April 2 parliamentary elections will officially start on March 5. The paper expects the main election contenders to rely heavily on populist rhetoric and unrealistic promises in their campaigns. It also says that President Serzh Sarkisian’s speech at a November congress of his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will serve as a blueprint for the HHK’s election campaign. “It will not differ from recent years’ rhetoric or contain any news,” it says. “Only the opposition can force the authorities to resort to novelties if it manages to say something new. Or else, the pre-election period in Armenia will be business as usual.”
“The state of Armenia’s national security and international relations is alarming,” claims “Aravot.” The paper says that Armenia should finally emerge from the Russian orbit. It points to Russia’s reaction to the December 29 skirmish on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” questions the credibility of official statistics that shows a nearly 24 percent year-on-year increase in Armenia’s imports in November. The paper argues that the National Statistical Service (NSS) had reported a steady drop imports in January-October 2016. “This is apparently the result of informal agreements,” it says in reference to the November figure.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” adds its voice to opposition criticism of Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian of Vanadzor, who has effectively voiced support for the city’s pro-government Mayor Mamikon Aslanian locked in a bitter dispute with three opposition parties. The latter have been boycotting sessions of the municipal council in protest. “If we take into account the reasons for that boycott and the circumstances in which the Vanadzor mayor was elected, the high-ranking cleric should have lambasted this sinful virus and urged some members of the council to get rid of it,” comments the pro-opposition daily. “But as we know, the church is separate from the state and does not interfere in politics,” it adds with sarcasm.