“There is such an abundance of leaders in Armenia that it will be enough for several Armenias,” parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian tells “Aravot,” ducking a question about who the United States would like to see as the country’s next president. “The USA expects from us a consistent deepening of democratic reforms, realization of constitutional and electoral reforms, a real fight against corruption, free and transparent elections,” he says. Baghdasarian, who has just returned from Washington, says the Americans specifically want the authorities in Yerevan to ensure the freedom and fairness of the upcoming constitutional referendum and the next national elections.
President Robert Kocharian’s national security aide, Garnik Isagulian, tells “Iravunk” that failure of the constitutional referendum would not be sufficient grounds for the resignation of Armenia’s leadership. Isagulian argues that no government in the world has ever quit over its defeat in a referendum.
“One gets the impression that our opposition has been doing only one thing in the last few years: expecting money from Russia, the USA and then some other place for organizing regime change in the country,” writes “Golos Armenii.” “Those forces can not count on weighty support within the country but they can buy that support.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that a company belonging to Armen Sarkisian, the jailed brother of opposition leader Aram Sarkisian, has sold a gold mine to the U.S. firm Global Gold for $3.5 million. “We can presume that Aram Sarkisian needs large sums for the upcoming ‘hot autumn,’” writes the pro-Kocharian paper. “Western funding has probably been rejected or is not sufficient.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” writes that a candidate of Stepan Demirchian’s People’s Party of Armenia in the local election in Yerevan’s central district is finding little support from other opposition parties. “After all, the opposition parties are competing with each other as well and each of those parties is aspiring to the role of the leading opposition force,” explains the paper. Opposition leader Artashes Geghamian, it says, is in favor of only the kind of regime change that will elevate him to the presidency. “Geghamian sees little difference between Robert Kocharian and Stepan Demirchian.” Demirchian, according to the paper, is similarly uneasy about the prospect of Geghamian becoming president.
“Aravot” reports that the weekend elections in three Yerevan districts had a common characteristic: “a disgraceful state of voter lists.” The paper says this fact makes nonsense of the authorities’ stated efforts to sort out the notoriously inaccurate registers.
“Iravunk” comments sarcastically that the vote in the Erebuni district, whose incumbent prefect Mher Sedrakian ran unopposed, was “the most legitimate, the most transparent and the most just.” There was simply no need to falsify its results, says the paper.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” points out that criminal suspects are rarely acquitted in Armenia because they are usually kept in detention before going on trial. “Pre-trial detention makes conviction inevitable. By arresting a person the prosecutor’s office effectively issues a court with an order to find a defendant guilty by all means. For if that person is acquitted it will mean that the investigative body committed a serious blunder by not only charging an innocent man and but also stripping him of his freedom without proving his guilt.” Armenian courts, concludes the paper, are nothing more than “bodies justifying investigators’ mistakes and rubber-stumping their pre-trial decisions.”