Vahan Hovannisian, the deputy parliament speaker and a leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that constitutional amendments that were controversially enacted one year ago are already reflecting positively on the political situation in Armenia. “The constitutional reforms are already having an impact in various spheres,” he says. “See, the election campaign has started earlier than it was supposed to officially start. Why? Because the next parliament will play a more serious role, notably in the appointment of the prime minister and formation of the government.”
“[Defense Minister] Serzh Sarkisian, who is gearing up for the presidential elections [of 2008], wants to achieve his objectives as early as in 2007,” writes “Iravunk.” “Serzh is well aware that if the opposition manages to win a serious presence in the 2007 parliament, then the outcome of the presidential election will be predetermined in the opposition’s favor.”
“168 Zham” alleges that the Civil Disobedience Movement launched recently by former Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian is financed and directed from Russia. The paper argues that the group holds its meetings in a Yerevan building belonging to a research institute that was handed over to Moscow in 2003 in payment for Armenia’s debts. “It is even being linked with Anatoly Chubays,” the paper says, referring to a prominent liberal politician who runs Russia’s state-run Unified Energy Systems utility. It claims that the initiative is also supported by the Russian embassy in Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports on a new folk-pop song that glorifies Gagik Tsarukian, a powerful tycoon whose Prosperous Armenia party intends to make a strong showing in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The paper cites the song’s lyrics that describe Tsarukian as a “king” who makes Armenians feel proud of their country. It suggests mockingly that the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) follow Tsarukian’s example and commission an ode to its two top leaders, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and Defense Minister Sarkisian.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the Armenia leadership has privately decided to schedule the elections for May 12.
“Aravot” reports that Vyacheslav Ivankov, a reputed Russian mafia boss who has served a lengthy prison sentenced in the United States, paid another confidential visit to Armenia last week. Citing unnamed sources, the paper says Ivankov, nicknamed “Yaponchik,” entered the country with a Russian passport indicating a different name and spent only one day in Yerevan.