By Emil Danielyan
A court in Yerevan sentenced on Thursday the chairman of a district election commission to two years in prison for committing serious fraud in Serzh Sarkisian’s favor during the recent presidential election.
Seyran Mkrtumian was convicted of adding 151 ballots marked for opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian to Sarkisian’s tally in a polling station in Yerevan’s southern Erebuni district. He was also held responsible for the disappearance of 146 Ter-Petrosian ballots from another Erebuni precinct which is part of the electoral district No. 13 headed by Mkrtumian.
The latter incident occurred during a vote recount conducted in the district in the presence of journalists and foreign election observers on February 23. An RFE/RL correspondent saw a man, who presented himself as a Sarkisian proxy, take an envelope containing the 146 votes and flee the scene. Mkrtumian also witnessed the apparent theft but claimed that “nothing was stolen from here.”
Similar violations, most of them benefiting Sarkisian, were also uncovered during recounts in a limited number of other polling stations. Nonetheless, most of the individuals arrested and prosecuted for electoral fraud so far appear to be Ter-Petrosian proxies. Two of them were sentenced to three years in prison on April 11 for exerting “psychological pressure” on the chairwoman of an election commission in the eastern town of Gavar who rigged the vote protocol in favor of Ter-Petrosian, Sarkisian and other candidates. The election official was handed a suspended jail term.