By Karine Kalantarian
Reports of fraud and other election-related violations coming from opposition presidential candidates are “infested with lies” some of which can entail criminal liability, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian said on Tuesday.
“There are too many lies and false reports,” complained Hovsepian. “One gets the impression that people think if they repeat a lie for many times it will be accepted as a truth.”
“There is also a desire to cast shadow on the republic’s law-enforcement bodies in this way,” he said. “I understand that lies and false reports are ploys necessary for conducting an election campaign. But one must not link [that] with the work of law-enforcement bodies.”
Hovsepian threatened to prosecute those who make “overtly slanderous” claims that are punishable by Armenia’s Criminal Code. He refused to cite any examples of such claims or other non-existent violations alleged by candidates and media critical of the government.
But Hovsepian did speak about a violent incident that nearly disrupted former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s campaign rally in the southern town of Artashat, repeating the official version of events which contradicts witness accounts. He insisted in particular that a group of government loyalists led by a nephew of the Artashat-based Deputy Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian did not hurle stones or any other objects at rally organizers contrary to reports by RFE/RL and other media.
The young man whose father, Henrik “Jonik” Abrahamian is a parliament deputy, was one of the most active participants of their scuffles with Ter-Petrosian’s supporters. He was photographed and videotaped by journalists covering the rally. He can be seen in the footage of the violence posted on website of A1+, a television station pulled off the air by the Armenian authorities nearly six years ago.
“The pictures don’t show Jonik Abrahamian throwing stones or hitting anyone,” insisted Hovsepian.
The Artashat incident was condemned by Ter-Petrosian as a government provocation designed to derail his election campaign. However, law-enforcement authorities say the opposition candidate himself provoked it with his derogatory attacks on Hovik Abrahamian.