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By Ruzanna Khachatrian
President Robert Kocharian avoided Thursday public comments on his hotly disputed electoral victory, but some of his allies welcomed it as a triumph of democracy, shrugging off opposition allegations of vote rigging.

“I don’t think that there were serious irregularities yesterday,” said Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “Some people might have done some things in some places. But I believe that did not have a major impact on the elections.”

“Our assessment of the elections is positive,” Sahakian told RFE/RL.

The HHK leader also downplayed the significance of international observers’ conclusion that the polls were not democratic. “Our people are beginning to trust others more than they trust us,” he complained.

A senior member of another pro-presidential party, Orinats Yerkir, said Kocharian’s victory by a huge margin was too convincing to be called into question. “The percentage figures don’t allow us to cast doubt on the elections,” Mher Shahgeldian said.

Leaders of another major party that has vigorously campaigned for Kocharian’s reelection, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), declined a comment for unknown reasons.

There was also no comment from Kocharian’s campaign headquarters. His campaign manager, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, was due to hold a press conference late Thursday to summarize the electoral process. But it was unexpectedly cancelled. Sources said Sarkisian will likely meet reporters on Friday.
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