“Haykakan Zhamanak” says there is renewed talk of an impending government reshuffle in Yerevan prompted by rumors about a rift between President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. The paper says Sarkisian might even lose his job as a result. However, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian flatly denied those rumors on Wednesday. “I am sure that there are no differences between the president of the republic and Serzh Sarkisian,” he told reporters.
Markarian also welcomed the recent release from prison of former Nagorno-Karabakh army commander Samvel Babayan and saw no political motives behind it. “I have spoken about that with the president of Nagorno-Karabakh on numerous occasions. He said Babayan will be set free when the right time comes.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” derides the rumors about Kocharian falling out with his powerful defense minister, saying that they are spread by supporters of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. The paper believes that their purpose is to destabilize the political situation in Armenia by undermining the ruling coalition. It recalls similar speculation in the months leading up to the October 1999 shootings in the Armenian parliament. Kocharian was said to be increasingly at odds with then Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and parliament speaker Karen Demirchian.
“168 Zham” reports that Justice Minister David Harutiunian remains unhappy with the recent creation of a new unit within the Prosecutor-General’s Office tasked with combating corruption. “If the prosecutor’s office is doing that in accordance with a legal procedure then I see no problem there,” Harutiunian tells the paper. “But if they are applying other means not envisaged by the law I certainly consider that incorrect and inappropriate, to say the least.” The minister adds that the prosecutors are actually resorting to those “other means.”
President Kocharian tells “Aravot” through his spokesman that controversial remarks on domestic and foreign policy issues made from time to time by his national security adviser, Garnik Isagulian, mainly reflect the latter’s personal views. The presidential press secretary, Ashot Kocharian, advises the paper to directly contact Isagulian with such inquiries. But the paper suggests that Isagulian blurts out things (i.e., a contemptuous description of Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis and calls for the ouster of government officials with a non-traditional sexual orientation) which Kocharian agrees with but can not say publicly.
Another target of Isagulian’s attacks is Tigran Torosian, the deputy parliament speaker and the head of the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Torosian hits back, telling “Aravot” that Isagulian “has absolutely no idea of the responsibility and rights stemming from his post.” Torosian says Isagulian’s bravado is too primitive to hide his incompetence.