“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that the Marxist Party of Armenia has joined opposition groups urging a “no” vote in the November 27 referendum. The paper says the party has done so because its eccentric leader, David Hakobian, does not like one of the proposed amendments that would require potential presidential candidates to deposit as much as $150,000 in cash.
In an interview with “Aravot,” Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian denies that he is the “shadow” manager of the “Yes” campaign. “I don’t know who is circulating such rumors,” he says. “The coalition has submitted draft constitutional changes; European expert organizations have made a positive assessment of the draft; and incidentally, that draft takes into account all key proposals of the opposition.” Abrahamian adds that he will assist in the coalition’s efforts to win public support for the amendments.
“There can be no perfect constitution and we, like any other civilized country, are not embarking on reform of the basic law for the last time,” the head of the Artsakh organization uniting prominent natives of Nagorno-Karabakh, Hamlet Harutiunian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Harutiunian defends a controversial amendment that would give the Armenian president’s immunity from prosecution both during and after their tenure. President Robert Kocharian, he says, does not need such immunity.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” argues against the very idea of compensating those Armenians whose Soviet-era savings deposits were depreciated during the early 1990s. The paper says the cash-strapped government of independent Armenia must not be liable for the financial obligations which its Soviet predecessors had failed to fulfill. “We all have contributed to not only the construction but also the destruction of that state,” it says, referring to the Soviet Union. “Yet deposit compensation has become the greatest manifestation of populism in our modern history.” The paper says many Armenian politicians realize this but are afraid of openly opposing the idea.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” continues to analyze Armenia’s draft budget for next years. The paper reveals that the bill earmarks funds for the purchase of 23 trucks for the presidential administration. “Why on earth does the presidential administration need trucks?” asks the paper. “For taking the homeland’s money abroad,” Kocharian’s national security adviser, Garnik Isagulian, responds sarcastically.