(Saturday, July 1)
In an interview with “168 Zham,” tycoon Gagik Tsarukian presents the first results of the ongoing nationwide expansion of his Prosperous Armenia party. “At the moment, we have more than 300 offices, more than 200,000 members and efforts to further expand party structures are underway,” says Tsarukian. “With this party I want do a good thing,” he adds. Tsarukian also says he does not know yet whom Prosperous Armenia will nominate for the post of prime minister if it wins next year’s parliamentary election.
“Golos Armenii” says the upcoming congress of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will mark the start of its election campaign. The HHK may well outshine Tsarukian’s party in terms of the scale of its election-related activities, says the paper. “The period of uncertainty is over. For a while nobody and nothing prevented Tsarukian from building Prosperous Armenia. On July 22 the HHK will enter the fray, and the pro-government electorate will thus be divided between supporters of the HHK, Prosperous Armenia and the Association for Armenia.”
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” the HHK and Tsarukian’s party have already emerged as favorites with less than a year to go before the elections. The paper says the Armenian opposition may never catch up with them. It also quotes the HHK’s parliamentary leader, Galust Sahakian, as predicting that the parties represented in the current National Assembly will also have seats in the next Armenian legislature. “The opposition camp will have 30 or a bit more deputies. The remaining  seats will be distributed among other parties,” he says.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that another governing party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), will hold a pre-election conference this autumn. One of its leaders, Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian, is quoted as saying that the conference will discuss not only Dashnaktsutyun’s 2007 election tactic but also its participation in the 2008 presidential ballot.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments on the announcement by Gazprom vice-chairman Aleksandr Ryazanov that the Russian gas monopoly intends to buy the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. “This statement is interesting in that neither the Armenian nor the Iranian side has announced any plans to sell its respective section of the gas pipeline,” writes the paper. “But regardless of this, if Russia has decided so, that means it will buy at least the Armenian section of the gas pipeline.”
“Since our rulers can’t reject any desire of the Russians, one can already consider the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline to be in the Russians’ hands,” concurs “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.”
“168 Zham” reports that former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s uncle Sarkis has been briefly taken into custody on charges of embezzling public funds. Sarkis Baghdasarian heads one of the Yerevan offices of the State Real Property Cadastre. He allegedly failed to transfer to the state treasury all duties levied from real estate transactions by the government agency in Yerevan’s Kanaker-Zeytun district. The paper says Baghdasarian and his deputies have already stepped down. “Right now Sarkis Baghdasarian is at large, but law-enforcers are investigating the embezzlement case,” it adds.