By Astghik Bedevian
An opposition bloc’s representative claims that an attempt to deprive up to 300,000 voters of their right to vote is being made only to lower the threshold for ‘yes’ votes required in next month’s constitutional referendum.
Grigor Harutiunian of the Artarutyun bloc went on to criticize the authorities’ plans to strike the names of all residents of Armenia with old Soviet passports off the voter lists in order to secure an easier passage of controversial changes to the country’s Basic Law on November 27.
“These steps show that they are in a real hysteria now, as they see their opponents strengthening their positions,” said Harutiunian.
An estimated 800,000 votes in favor of the amendments are believed to be enough in the referendum to consider the reformed constitution approved.
Meanwhile, the opposition claims that leaving out people with old “red passports” will reduce the required threshold for “yes” votes by some 300,000 votes.
“I regret that our compatriots whose only fault is that they don’t bear Republic of Armenia citizens’ passports are being taken out of the lists,” Artarutyun’s representative told RFE/RL.
National Unity party leader Artashes Geghamian shares this position of his fellow oppositionists.
“These ‘red passports’ did not prevent the authorities from to making large-scale vote riggings in the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2003 as well as in the recent local elections,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Orinats Yerkir parliamentary faction leader Samvel Balasanian sees only “good intentions” in this move, explaining that it is aimed only at updating the voter lists. “There are objective reasons for doing this. These people are mainly outside the country,” he said.
Commenting on the statement recently issued by more than 20 creative unions in support of the draft constitutional amendments, Artashes Geghamian claimed that representatives of these unions have a different opinion in reality.
“They think differently deep in their hearts. At home they ask themselves: when will we get rid of these criminal authorities?”
Meanwhile, Deputy Parliament Speaker Vahan Hovannisian rejects “thinking deep in one’s heart” as a political category.
“If they have the political courage to voice their objection, don’t let them sign. But signing and later complaining is not a behavior becoming of an intellectual,” he said.
Regarding the opposition’s accusations of different international agencies of meddling in Armenia’s internal affairs by making comments on the constitutional amendments, Hovannisian said: “The opposition should distinguish between voicing an opinion and interference.”