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Armenian University Accused Of Illegal Campaigning


Armenia - The main building of the Yerevan State University, 9Oct2014.

Armenia - The main building of the Yerevan State University, 9Oct2014.

Activists of a local civic group opposed to the planned constitutional changes have accused the administration of Armenia’s top university of allowing campaigning among students on the premises of the establishment ahead of a referendum, which is against Armenia’s law.

Two members of the presidential commission that drafted the amendments organized meetings at the Yerevan State University (YSU) on Thursday to advocate the changes put to a December 6 referendum.

One of them, Gagik Ghazinian, who is the dean of the YSU Department of Law, said that the set of amendments ensured a better constitution than the current one.

Another member of the commission, Gevorg Danielian, also spoke about the constitutional changes, in particular, focusing on their most controversial aspect of forming a so-called ‘stable majority’ in the National Assembly.

The two spoke for about two hours, stressing that the meeting was just an awareness event held “within the framework of the law”.

But the group “You Won’t Pass It”, which campaigns against the constitutional amendments, insists that having such meetings with the teaching staff and students during class hours amounts to illegal campaigning.

Activists invoke the provision of Armenia’s law on referendums that bans the teaching personnel at educational establishments from campaigning in their capacities as teachers, lecturers or school leaders.

“Besides, due to the fact that they were members of the commission that drafted the amendments it is clear that they could not speak objectively,” said Arshak Musakhanian, a member of the group.

This was not the first discussion dealing with the planned constitutional reform that was held at the YSU. Several days ago the administration of the University held a similar event for students.

YSU Rector Aram Simonian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) then that there were also lecturers who did not hide their opposition to the constitutional reform. But he said that no one from outside would be allowed to campaign in the University.

Meanwhile, head of the YSU Student Council Raffi Karamian, who also attended a meeting with the members of the constitutional reform commission, acknowledged that it did influence his position.

“I think we need these changes. This is my personal position, and I am going to vote for the changes,” he said.

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