“Aravot” says Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, increasingly challenged by the domestic opposition and ostracized by the West, wants to prop up his regime by strengthening ties with Russia and other ex-Soviet states, including Armenia. The paper says a “grateful Russia” is not failing to use this unique opportunity to bring its former province, which has often pursued a pro-Western foreign policy, back into the Russian orbit. It says Kuchma is visiting Armenia despite Robert Kocharian’s reported opposition to a Russian proposal to give Ukraine a rotating presidency in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The two presidents have a lot in common, “Aravot” continues. Kuchma’s weekend attacks on the Ukrainian opposition, for example, mirrored his Armenian counterpart’s treatment of political opponents. Both men accuse their oppositions of destabilizing the situation in their respective countries and categorically refuse to give up power.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” accuses Kocharian of inability to protect Russia’s large Armenian community against growing discrimination and racist attacks. Armenia needs a new leadership in order to end the Russian Armenians’ “humiliating status of hostages” so that they are no longer “forced to represent Russia’s interests,” the paper says, apparently referring to Ara Abrahamian and his Union of Armenians of Russia.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” says that Armenia’s two largest pro-government groups, the Republican Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), are making overtures to the opposition ahead of the elections. The Republican leader, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, said on Wednesday that he is ready to cooperate with the opposition in ensuring that the elections are free and fair. Similarly, Dashnaktsutyun has begun talks with leading opposition parties on ways of staving off vote irregularities.
But “Aravot” has serious doubts regarding the sincerity of Dashnaktsutyun’s statements, saying that the nationalist party should instead use its government levers to contribute to a normal course of the elections. “By cooperating with opposition forces, is Dashnaktsutyun trying to increase its clout in the eyes of the president of the republic? Is it thus hinting that it may defect to the opposition camp or has other motives?”
“Hayots Ashkhar” criticizes the opposition for taking seriously terrorist leader Nairi Hunanian’s stated intention to run for president. The paper believes that this is only boosting Hunanian’s brazen self-confidence.
But as “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports, Markarian too was on Wednesday “seriously discussing the Hunanian topic with journalists.”