A former regional governor representing the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) risked on Tuesday a criminal investigation into his role in a violent incident during a local election in the southeastern Vayots Dzor province.
In a short statement, the Armenian police said Sergei Bagratian and his son broke into a polling station in the local village of Artabuyn and took “illegal actions” there during the counting of ballots on the night from Sunday to Monday. The statement did not specify those actions. It said only that Bagratian resorted to them because a candidate for village mayor backed by him was defeated by a representative of the ruling Republican Party (HHK).
Citing police sources, media reports said that Bagratian, who governed Vayots Dzor until June and now leads the regional BHK branch, head-butted a police officer guarding the polling station while trying to steal ballots.
Both the ex-governor and the defeated candidate, Armen Sedrakian, were questioned by the Vayots Dzor police on Monday. A police spokesman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the findings of a preliminary police inquiry have been sent to the Special Investigative Service and that the latter will decide whether to press criminal charges against Bagratian. The SIS claimed, however, that it has not received the case yet.
Bagratian on Tuesday strongly denied the reported official version of events. He insisted that he did not enter the polling station and only sought to “calm” Sedrakian supporters suspecting a ballot miscount.
“Some of the villagers entered the polling station,” Bagratian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “There was a scuffle and ballots were thrown out. I myself saw ballots lying on the ground.”
“I did not get in and intervene in the vote count in any way. Neither did my son,” he said.
Bagratian claimed that the criminal proceedings may have been engineered by Vayots Dzor’s current Republican governor in retaliation for a BHK candidate’s defeat of the HHK-affiliated incumbent mayor of Yeghegnadzor, the regional capital.