“Zhamanak Yerevan” speculates that President Robert Kocharian would follow his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s example and seek to become prime minister if he had a “non-Republican” loyal majority in the National Assembly. “Unlike Vladimir Putin, who had a 70-80 percent approval ratings at the end of his eight-year rule and can ensure the victory of [the pro-presidential] party, Robert Kocharian is well aware that he has a zero rating and is doing everything to dissociate himself the Prosperous Armenia Party,” writes the paper.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the prospect of Levon Ter-Petrosian’s participation in the 2008 presidential election is “radically changing” the Armenian opposition camp. “It no longer contains numerous pretenders for the second place [in the presidential race] because Levon Ter-Petrosian’s nomination makes one thing clear to everyone: in the existing balance of forces the first and second places are already occupied,” says the paper, apparently referring to Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian.
“Aravot” berates Armenia’s current and former leaders for dividing the country’s post-Soviet history into two parts: before and after 1998. “This is a single period with its undisputed achievements and equally obvious vices,” editorializes the paper. “The division becomes even more meaningless given the fact the strongest contenders for the post of president are equally current and former [leaders] of the third republic.”
“Taregir” says the authorities regard Ter-Petrosian as their main rival who is “capable of turning the political scene upside down, scuttling plans for a smooth reproduction of the regime and again assuming the role of the popular leader.” The pro-Ter-Petrosian paper notes that unlike Kocharian, Serzh Sarkisian has so far avoided commenting on the former president’s political comeback. “The reason is not that he is more prudent than Kocharian,” it says. “The reason is that Kocharian is leaving the post of president, while Sarkisian is on the contrary is cherishing hopes for ending up in that post.” The paper says he has always lacked the courage to personally attack Ter-Petrosian and preferred to outsource the job to other politicians.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that Sarkisian will use his government’s record-high draft budget for next year as a public relations stunt. The paper downplays the big increase budget’s dollar value, saying that much of it will result from the sharp appreciation of the Armenian dram. It also claims that in a bid to meet its 2008 budgetary targets the government will continue to resort to illegal means of tax collection.