“Haykakan Zhamanak” finds it “very difficult” to imagine Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian or Transport Minister Andranik Manukian becoming opposition politicians in the future. “Throughout their life these persons have saved no effort to be close to government. For them power is not a means [for accomplishing something] but a clear goal as it is considered the most reliable way of making money.” The paper believes that 90 percent of government officials in Armenia can never be in opposition. “Either they will not be on the [political] arena or will retain their government status,” it concludes.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also reports that Markarian went on a two-week vacation on Monday which he will spend in Europe with “a small group of businessmen.” Markarian’s chief of staff and close associate, Manuk Topuzian, will perform the prime minister’s duties in his absence.
“Iravunk” notes the fact that Markarian will return to work on August 29, the day when the Armenian parliament is scheduled to hold final debates on constitutional reform. The paper says Markarian’s presence at the debates will be “crucial” for ensuring its attendance by pro-government deputies.
“Aravot” reports that some leaders of Artarutyun believe that deputies affiliated with the opposition bloc must also attend the August 29 debates in order to attack the ruling regime.
“Iravunk” suggests that the upcoming local elections will see an “inevitable clash of interests” between Markarian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. The paper claims that Sarkisian intends to play a “pivotal role” in those elections. “The community elections will lay the groundwork for parliamentary elections.”
“Aravot” says one such clash is already unfolding in Yerevan’s Kanaker-Zeytun district which will elect its prefect on September 18. The paper says its incumbent prefect, Ruben Sinoyan, enjoys Markarian’s backing. His main rival, businessman Ara Kotanjian, is said to be unofficially supported by the defense minister.
“Aravot” also reports that the Russian construction group BAMO, which is owned by an Armenian-born businessman and wants to privatize Armenia’s largest concert hall, operates under the tutelage of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s billionaire wife. The paper says Luzhkov was due to visit Yerevan last week to discuss the issue with Armenian officials. “But that visit never took place. The reason for that is that experts from Kremlin were in Yerevan last Monday. Their analyses found that anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia results from such deals.”