“Hayots Ashkhar” looks at the foreign policy orientation of Armenian election contenders. The pro-presidential paper believes that they should be classified not into pro-Russian and pro-Western forces but pro-Armenian and pro-Western ones. By “pro-Armenian” it means the moderately pro-Russian line favored by political parties supporting President Robert Kocharian and the opposition parties led by Artashes Geghamian and Stepan Demirchian. The same is true for oligarch Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party, according to “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Aravot” refers to Tsarukian and other businessmen involved in politics as “mercenaries of political forces.” The paper says they are needed for rubber-stamping government bills. In return for doing that, it says, they get away with evading taxes, privatizing state land and enterprises at symbolic prices, and “committing other illegalities.” “To call that a political team would be a gross exaggeration. It is a simple tradeoff which is deemed null and void the moment a government tutelage for breaking the law crumbles.” The paper gives the example of businessmen who defected from Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir Party as soon as it was expelled from the ruling coalition and are now affiliated with parties remaining in government.
“Aravot” also claims that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian will be appointed prime minister after the May 12 elections. The paper says the posts of health minister, finance minister, and culture minister in Sarkisian’s cabinet are likely to be given to Prosperous Armenia members.
“Hayk” reports that members of Armenia’s national chess team, which won last year’s Chess Olympiad in Turin, on Tuesday publicly endorsed Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “It’s hard to imagine what would happen in Brazil or Italy if members of their national football teams suddenly announce before parliamentary elections that they support the party led by the chairman of the country’s football federation,” comments the paper. “Such a thing will undoubtedly not happen in Italy and even in Brazil because nobody would dare to put revered athletes in an awkward situation there … But Armenia is no Italy or Brazil. Here they embarrass not only the country’s ordinary citizens but sportsmen.”