Kocharian’s Campaign Pledges Free Fair Vote

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Prime Minister–Acting President and presidential candidate Robert Kocharian and his election headquarters are resolutely disposed in running a free and fair election and are going to do everything to achieve that–according to Aghvan Vardanian–who is responsible for mass media relations at Kocharian’s election headquarters.

At a news conference Wednesday–Vardanian reported that recently the headquarters initiated closer contacts with mass media–a campaign strategy not done in the first round due to the shortage of time. "It is very important for me that we achieve additional boosts in the polls. Armenia’s mass media should become more influential in the society," Vardanian said.

Vardanian also reported that they have asked Karen Demirchian’s election headquarters for a TV discussion between the two candidates. Karen Demirchian principally agreed–but no definite response has been received so far–and that is why the discussion scheduled for March 25 was put off.

Vardanian reminded that before the first round of voting–presidential candidate Paruyr Hairikian proposed to amend the election law to make it more fair and free–and Robert Kocharian agreed with that proposal. However other candidates–including Karen Demirchian–ignored it.

According to Aghvan Vardanian–Demirchian’s headquarters gave a principal consent to the proposal–but no concrete response to work jointly and ensure free and fair election has been received.

He said that press publishes addresses and phone numbers of Kocharian’s regional headquarters–and they ask that people call and report on any noticed violations.

Vardanian voiced a principal discontent over attempts to draw parallels between presidential polls of 1996 and 1998 and described such parallels as immoral.

Asked if it can be said that Robert Kocharian is supported by the Armenian National Movement–because Kocharian and Vardanian used to be members of the first ANM Board–the latter answered–"Everybody took part in the Karabakh movement in the last decade. It was undermined by the well-known people who came to power. I state that this regime is behind Karen Demirchian’s back."

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