The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) denounced on Tuesday the conduct of a weekend local election that put an end to its almost decade-long control of a major rural community near Yerevan.
The mayoral election in Proshian village took place three months after the killing of its mayor, Hrach Muradian, who was affiliated with Dashnaktsutyun. Official vote results gave a narrow victory to a candidate of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) who was at loggerheads with Muradian.
In a statement, Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia said the election outcome was decided by the use of administrative resources, vote buying and “coercion.” “As a result, the Republican candidate who was the slain community head’s rival in the previous elections was declared the winner,” it said. “Such a display of political cynicism undermined the electoral process and deepened existing tensions in the community.”
The opposition party at the same time urged its supporters in Proshian not to “succumb to possible attempts to create further tension.” It also assured them that the Dashnaktsutyun leadership will save no effort to have Muradian’s murder solved.
The election results were also rejected as fraudulent by Vova Sahakian, the main opposition candidate backed by the slain mayor’s family. Sahakian was not officially endorsed by Dashnaktsutyun despite being affiliated with the party.
The Dashnaktsutyun statement came shortly after ballot recounts conducted in two Proshian precincts. They did not change the official vote tally.
The local HHK campaign denies the vote rigging allegations, saying that the Sahakian campaign itself resorted to fraud.
Meanwhile, Muradian’s brother Zohrab said on Tuesday that the election outcome reinforced the family’s belief that the former Proshian mayor was assassinated for political reasons. He stressed the fact that Hrach had a tense rapport with the provincial and central governments during his tenure.
“They have achieved their goal. They were interested in liquidating him and taking his place. It was a political murder because he didn’t obey them,” Zohrab Muradian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service, pointing the finger at the authorities.
Galust Sahakian, an HHK deputy chairman, rejected this allegation, saying that the Muradian family is too grief-stricken to make correct political statements. “The Republican Party had no problem with that guy,” he said.