“Hayots Ashkhar” commends opposition leader Artashes Geghamian for not adding his party’s name to the list of forces supporting Levon Ter-Petrosian in the February 19 presidential elections. “This is not only logical but natural,” says the paper, arguing that unlike Ter-Petrosian, Geghamian has usually espoused “pro-Armenian positions” on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and relations with Turkey and never had “fundamental differences with the regime.” Conversely, the paper slams another opposition heavyweight, Stepan Demirchian, for not following Geghamian’s example and jumping on Ter-Petrosian’s bandwagon instead. This is so, it says, because Demirchian has never made a single “cohesive statement” on external challenges facing Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that the anticipated endorsement of Ter-Petrosian’s presidential candidacy by Demirchian’s People’s Party (HZhK) is increasing pressure on other, undecided opposition leaders. The pro-Ter-Petrosian paper says rank-and-file members of their parties are increasingly demanding that they follow suit.
Interviewed by “Aravot,” the head of the largest diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church covering Yerevan and southern Armenia, Archbishop Navasard Kchoyan, defends his extraordinary speech at the weekend congress of the governing Republican Party (HHK) in which he effectively endorsed Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian for the presidency. He insists that the speech did not constitute an interference in political affairs by the church. “I think the elections will follow a natural course,” says Kchoyan. “There will be no surprises. The balance of forces and the people’s trust is such that the election will have a logical finale.”
Armenians are “prudent” enough to vote for Sarkisian, implies the cleric close to Catholicos Garegin II. He also claims that Ter-Petrosian is only bent on creating “doubts about the legitimacy of the future president.”
Citing Kchoyan’s controversial speech, “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” accuses the authorities of drawing the Armenian Church into their “political games.” The paper also ridicules the HHK’s decision to sponsor a free concert by a Russian pop start in Yerevan’s Liberty Square the day after Ter-Petrosian’s next rally. It says the move makes a mockery of the HHK’s stated allegiance to “patriotism” and a “national ideology.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” reports that Sarkisian has made a final decision to appoint Deputy Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian as his election campaign manager. Abrahamian will also have two deputies, HHK parliamentary leader Karen Karapetian and Minister for Urban Development Vartan Vartanian.