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(Saturday, January 14)

“Haykakan Zhamanak” speculates that when Karen Karapetian agreed to become prime minister late last year he did not know that he will not be legally allowed to retain that post after recent amendments to Armenia’s constitution take effect in April 2018. One of those amendments stipulates that parliament deputies and government members have to have resided in Armenia for the past four years. Karapetian lived and worked in Russia from 2011-2016. The paper says Serzh Sarkisian almost certainly knew about this constitutional provision when he offered Karapetian the post of prime minister. “It is probably with this calculation that he invited Karen Karapetian to Armenia,” it claims, adding that Sarkisian intends to become prime minister in 2018.

“Zhamanak” claims, meanwhile, that Sarkisian wants to make Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian prime minister from April 2017 to April 2018. This is why, it says, Sargsian will top the list of the ruling HHK’s candidates for the April 2 parliamentary elections. The paper too says that Serzh Sarkisian wants to become prime minister after completing his second presidential term.

“Aravot” cites rumors that the chairwoman of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), Naira Zohrabian, will run for parliament not only on a party-list basis but also in a constituency in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district. The constituency has long been the stronghold of Samvel Aleksanian, an influential tycoon affiliated with the HHK. Asked to comment on this speculation, Zohrabian says: “I will answer all questions only after Gagik Tsarukian’s statement on his return to politics. As regards Malatia-Sebastia, indeed, it is possible that I will run in that community.”

“Hraparak” says that it is still not clear just how Raffi Hovannisian’s opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party will participate in the upcoming elections. The paper says that the party’s senior members are waiting for Hovannisian to return from the United States and make a final decision on Zharangutyun’s electoral strategy. “But he may again extend his stay in the U.S.,” it says.

“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Paruyr Hayrikian, a veteran politician, as saying that his Self-Determination Union party is negotiating with “circles close to former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian” on the possibility of entering into an electoral alliance with them. Hayrikian claims that such a bloc would be able to win as much as 75-80 percent of the vote.

(Artur Papian)

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