Photo by Media Center
Representatives of non-governmental organizations that have implemented monitoring of Yerevan municipal elections on 6 May at the Media Center declared that the elections have not met international standards. Administrative resources were abused during campaigning, and on the day of elections almost in all precinct stations there were violations including, crowded polls inside and outside, up to 50 meters surrounding the stations, interference and prevention of work of observers and journalists, psychological pressure, presence of non-authorized persons at and in front of precinct stations, leading voters to the boxes, and other.
Civil Society Institute’s Board Chairman Artak Kirakosyan stated that elections were held in a tense and competitive atmosphere. “Inside and outside of precinct stations, individuals and groups of people put a pressure on the elections participants. Those who pressured were presenting themselves partly as Armenian Republican Party (ANP) proxies, as well as representatives of different observation missions”, he said. He also mentioned that direct and indirect (through creation of atmosphere of fear) obstacles were put to prevent the work of journalists and observers, when they did photo and video recording.
According to Kirakosyan, the vote counting has begun in a nervous and tense atmosphere and was smoothed out only after the data started to show that the ANP is winning. “The results of elections can be finally evaluated after the complaints are submitted and proceeded and after studying the final decisions”, says CSI Board Chairman. And for now, as he described it, “it was a struggle between the district boys and city girls”.
Chairman of Armenian Helsinki Committee AvetikIshkhanyan declared that political parties used observation missions to lead people on the election day. According to him, organizations such as “Erebuni” Center for Community Development, “Center for Economic and Social Rights”, “Life” –international association on human rights, politics and humanitarian issues, worked for the benefit of the Armenian Republican Party. “There was no any difference between activities of these organizations’ observers and party proxies, and they constantly were replacing their badges, to present themselves proxies in some instances and then observers in other cases”, mentioned AvetikIshkhanyan.
“At the presidential elections, the authorities were confident in winning, and they then became surprised with the outcomes of the elections. During this period they worked seriously and used administrative resources as much as they could, and as a result of such a work, TaronMargaryan won SerzhSargsyan in Yerevan”, concluded the Chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Association.
Chairwoman of Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center SonaAyvazyanstated that in Armenia, as usual, disgraceful elections took place.
“Every time we wonder how numerous and diverse violationscan be. From the first moment in the morning the violations of the rights of journalists and observers has been registered. There were obstacles put in front of our observers regarding video recording, threats, swearing, psychological pressure were used. During the whole process there was intense atmosphere in the majority of precinct stations”, concluding observation results, stated SonaAyvazyan.
According to her, at some precinct stations, the “district authorities” simply ruled. “Even NP deputies were involved, such as SamvelAlexanyan who could come and shout at his gang’s representatives…”
Transparency International and Citizen Observer program’s another three organizations registered cases of using “carousel”, voting with colored pens, overcrowding, bringing voters by transport means, numerous voting by the same persons, discrepancy in the voting lists and other.
“The elections are assessed as bad, it seems that we do not make any progress”, says SonaAyvazyan and adds that the violations registered by them were reported to the law enforcement bodies and they will follow the proceeding of these cases.
Coordinator of the iDitord.org site SamvelMartirosyanmentioned that on their site at that moment 417 violations were registered, the big part of which were put by citizens on the election day. According to him, there was almost every possible violation, except for stealing ballot boxes. The big portion of information on violations came from MalatiaSebastia and Erebuni administrative districts.
Chairman of Harmonia non-governmental organization Eduard Ghudruntsgave a short description to the elections as “controlled democratic elections”. Chairwoman of Armavir Development Center Naira Arakelyan raised a question on why observers cannot also protest against violations, in addition to just registering them.
Chairwoman of “Ability and Development for Civil Society” NGO agreed to the assessments given at the press- conference and noted that as regular they were convinced that there is no way of changing the Armenian government through elections.