“Haykakan Zhamanak” writes that the creation of a three-party opposition alliance comprising Artashes Geghamian and the Communists did not come as a surprise. “What happened at the congress of the Socialist Armenia bloc should have happened,” it says. The paper believes that the pro-Russian opposition forces have “fooled” the Hanrapetutyun and People’s parties. “To be honest, both Hanrapetutyun and the HZhK deserve that,” because they have stubbornly followed a wrong political course.
“Orran” suspects the authorities of orchestrating the de facto break-up of the “union of 16.” Robert Kocharian, it says, is keenly interested in such a development.
But as the “Yerkir” weekly points out, the 16 parties have long mistrusted each other. The inevitable collapse of their alliance is now evident. The paper describes the declaration issued by the newly formed “popular-patriotic alliance” as an ultimatum to other opposition forces which contains “elements of blackmail.” The move came as the opposition appeared closer to reaching agreement on its joint presidential candidate.
“Iravunk” similarly writes that the decision made by Geghamian’s National Unity, the Communist Party and Socialist Armenia caught their opposition partners off the guard. Even some Communist leaders were not informed of it beforehand.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Communist lawmaker Norik Petrosian as commending Geghamian and his ideas. “I am sure that he is in thrall to Communist ideas,” Petrosian says.
“Yerkir” says political allies of Levon Ter-Petrosian are actively preparing ground for his nomination as a presidential candidate. “They at the same time realize that his chances of victory are slim and…aim to trumpet all over the world that the elections are not fair and the president not legitimate.”
“Iravunk” speculates that former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian’s possible presidential bid would be aimed at “casting doubt on the legitimacy of Robert Kocharian’s nomination.” The paper refers to the opposition belief that Kocharian was not eligible to run for president in 1998 because he had not lived in Armenia for the previous ten years, as is required by the Armenian constitution. The authorities’ refusal to register Hovannisian, who became Armenian citizen only last year, as a presidential candidate would allow the opposition to “create a great public resonance” over Kocharian’s eligibility.
“Iravunk” also sticks to its view that Ter-Petrosian enjoys the hidden support of a considerable part of the Armenian state apparatus. Even the opposition parties avoid making “disrespectful” remarks about the former president and “in effect, are trying not to burn the bridges.” All in all, the paper says, there are growing chances of a run-off presidential vote and, therefore, a regime change in Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak,” meanwhile, denounces the pro-Kocharian Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) for its continuing refusal to allow journalists to cover its conferences. The pre-election conference of Dashnaktsutyun’s Armenia organization, which begins on Friday, will also be held behind the closed doors in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor: far from public eyes. This “secrecy” means, according to the paper, that the Dashnaks place themselves “beyond the law.” “Such a work style contradicts a number of provisions in the constitution and laws of the Republic of Armenia.”
Apparently anticipating this line of attack, the Dashnaktsutyun-controlled “Yerkir” seeks to persuade Armenians that “it is hard to term secret those gatherings that are usually publicized after they are over.” Their decisions are communicated to all rank-and-file party members, it argues.