“Aravot” believes that the two key challenges facing Armenia are a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a “peaceful transformation of the clan-based oligarchic system into normal market-based relationships.” “The intellectual level of the pre-election debate is so low that there is and there will be no serious discussion of these issues,” editorializes the paper. It says Karabakh is not high on the political agenda because the mainstream Armenian parties do want to risk being branded “traitors.” As for the second challenge, it is only superficially brought up by the Armenian opposition.
According to “Golos Armenii,” at least one major party, businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia (BHK), was never supposed to cope with these and other challenges. “If the architect of Prosperous Armenia aimed to create a political unit corresponding to the third millennium, then that would have been a totally different party with a totally different electoral list,” writes the paper. It says the BHK is only meant to serve as a “auxiliary structure” for individuals more highly placed than Tsarukian.
“It is already evident that the upcoming parliamentary elections can in no case be considered legitimate,” editorializes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “Not because we presume that on May 12 they will bully people, do a [vote rigging] carousel, stuff ballots. The problem is that for the past five or six months we are witnessing a far more large-scale stuffing. It is people’s brains that are being stuffed.” The paper points to televised propaganda of the main pro-government forces and their ongoing distribution of what it calls “vote bribes.”
“If the opposition acted in a single alliance or had one or two pronounced leaders, it is obvious that they would be able to aspire to the role of an alternative presidential candidate in 2008,” pollster Aharon Adibekian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” “But our small parties have always had big ambitions. Those excessive ambitions prevented the opposition from uniting, which considerably weakens their positions.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that the chief of Armenia’s National Security Service, Gorik Hakobian, has instructed his subordinates to step up surveillance of opposition leaders and activists in the run-up to the elections. The paper says the NSS will also closely monitor the work of opposition and independent journalists, including correspondents for RFE/RL’s Armenian service.