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Voting in Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections will not be marred by serious fraud, the state human rights ombudsman, Karen Andreasian, predicted on Friday as he announced the launch by his office of election monitoring financed by the European Union.

Andreasian said electoral irregularities will likely occur only before voting day which he expected to be “clean and peaceful.” They will mainly take the form of Armenians being pressured by government or opposition loyalists, friends and relatives to make “clan-based decisions,” he said.

“Just how much money, administrative resources, connections and bullying will be involved in that process is a matter of discussion,” Andreasian told a news conference. “Such bullying could occur in both the pro-government and opposition camps.

“Why? Because at the family and community level people can be pressured. If, for example, everyone in your family is in opposition and you want to vote for the government side you too may be subjected to pressure.”

The ombudsman did not comment on the possibility of more serious fraud. He met reporters to present details of a vote-monitoring scheme that will be launched by the Office of the Human Rights Defender on Monday. The scheme will absorb much of $2.2 million in election-related assistance to be provided to Armenia by the EU.

Under an agreement signed with the Yerevan-based representations of the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last month, the ombudsman’s office will open six regional branches and launch a telephone hotmail for Armenians witnessing vote irregularities.

According to Andreasian, the ombudsman’s office will also form 20 rapid-reaction teams that would rush to the scene of violations reported by citizens.
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