“Haykakan Zhamanak” shrugs off President Serzh Sarkisian’s claim that Yerevan’s reelected Mayor Taron Markarian is the most popular political figure in the Armenian capital. The paper claims that Sarkisian is well aware that “Taron Markarian is not a political figure with high approval ratings and is not a political figure at all.” It says that he lavished praise on the late Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s son only because of political expediency. “Serzh Sarkisian had vowed in front the grave of Andranik Markarian, who died in suspicious circumstances [in 2007,] to take care of Markarian’s son for the rest of his life. That means as long as Serzh Sarkisian is the head of state Taron Markarian will remain Yerevan’s mayor,” speculates the paper.
Samvel Nikoyan, a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the opposition Yelk alliance bowed to pressure from more radical opposition forces not represented in the parliament when it decided to boycott President Sarkisian’s speech at the opening session of the new National Assembly last month. Nikoyan says Yelk leaders are thus trying to disprove allegations that they secretly collaborate with the authorities.
“Aravot” quotes a senior Armenian Defense Ministry official, Mher Israelian, as dismissing claims that the existence of a joint Russian-Armenian air-defense system reduces Armenia’s defense capabilities. He says that the system on the contrary strengthens Armenia’s air defenses because “we are able to directly to use anti-aircraft facilities deployed in Russia’s Southern Military District.” “And the Russian military base [in Armenia] does not just have 4,000 soldiers,” argues Israelian. “It also has a serious military capacity: missiles, warplanes.”
“Hraparak” discusses lingering problems hampering faster growth of Armenia’s tourism industry. “The main factor is roads,” writes the paper, saying that their poor quality discourages foreign visitors.