Kocharian Addresses Campaign Issues

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The reason I fired Edward Sarikian–prosecutor of Yerevan’s Mashtots district voting precinct–is that he failed to take necessary measures to institute criminal proceedings in connection with violations observed in the March 16 presidential election," said Acting President–Prime Minister and presidential candidate Robert Kocharian–Thursday.

Kocharian said he possessed numerous documen’s proving violations had been made in favor of other presidential candidates.

However–he said he is not going to make them public as "whatever action is undertaken–there will be someone who will link it to the acting leadership."

According to Kocharian–the arrest of four former interior and national security ministry employees is in no way related to presidential candidate Karen Demirchian.

Without providing any clear viewpoint regarding the OSCE Election Observation Mission report on the presidential election–Kocharian said "in the long run–it is we who are to elect the president."

Kocharian was surprised at rumors that he allegedly was trying to introduce a model of a militarized state in Armenia like the in one the Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to him–militarized rule in Karabakh was conditioned by the war–while everything changed after the war was over.

Former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s administration must be given a political assessment–Kocharian said–adding "it is not a good practice to punish the president. But if there are enough facts–the court may take up the case."

Kocharian also said top-ranking officials responsible for power abuse must be found and punished.

Kocharian dismissed as nonsense rumors alleging his election campaign was funded by the Sukiassians family–the richest in Armenia.

Kocharian stressed his platform was real–and some programs outlined in it were being implemented now–while others have been included in the 1998 state budget. Kocharian pointed to the 7 percent growth in the GDP compared to 1997.

He assured that in April and May–investment influx will increase–as investors are now awaiting election results.

Kocharian also said he will maintain his favorable attitude toward the media.

He said he cannot ignore the media as the situation is different now.

He stressed the importance of the media’s role–saying that in many cases the government took a decision only after reading relevant publications.

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