By Emil Danielyan
Armenian state prosecutors publicly defied on Thursday a Constitutional Court order to promptly investigate allegations of electoral fraud, accusing Armenia’s highest judicial body of overstepping its authority.
The unprecedented move appeared to reveal President Robert Kocharian’s annoyance at the court’s Wednesday ruling which did not explicitly reject opposition allegations that last month’s presidential election was rigged by the authorities.
In an extraordinary statement, the Prosecutor’s Office scoffed at the judgment, describing it as a largely “propaganda” and “declarative” document that “clearly goes beyond the framework of responsibilities of any judicial body.” It said the law-enforcement agency is under no obligation to comply with the Constitutional Court’s demand to identify and prosecute individuals guilty of vote rigging and publicize the results of the anti-fraud inquiry by May 20.
The prosecutors said Armenia’s Code for Procedural Justice does not give the top court such authority. They claimed that they were already taking “all measures” to investigate opposition complaints about alleged vote irregularities.
“Thus, we find it necessary to note that the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Armenia will act exclusively within the framework of its constitutional status and will rule out any direct or indirect interference,” the statement said.
It is the first time that the Prosecutor’s Office, which is controlled by the presidential administration, openly attacks the Constitutional Court. The irritated tone of its statement suggests that the Armenian leadership is very dissatisfied with its ruling on an appeal filed by Kocharian’s main challenger, Stepan Demirchian. Although the court refused to invalidate Kocharian’s reelection, it left unanswered the question of whether vote irregularities reported by the Demirchian campaign and international observers affected the outcome of the March 5 vote.
Kocharian’s office has not yet officially commented on the ruling.