Armenian newspapers react to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan implicitly threatening to blacklist individuals responsible for serious fraud reported during the December 6 constitutional referendum in Armenia.
“In essence, this is a warning to the effect that within the bounds of its powers the U.S. will take concrete action against those involved in vote falsifications,” writes “Zhamanak.” “This is an unprecedented statement demonstrating that the United States is in a more resolute mood this time around. The question is, however, whether this situation will make the Armenian authorities more serious about investigating irregularities and holding the guilty accountable.” The paper does not exclude that Washington is using the disputed referendum to put “political pressure” on the Armenian leadership and clinch some concessions in return.
“While having no domestic political ramifications, the referendum marred by fraud is seemingly threatening to have a serious foreign policy impact,” “168 Zham” writes in reference to the U.S. statement. “That warning is addressed to the Armenian authorities, which have always tried to offset their lack of internal legitimacy with a legitimacy granted by foreign powers,” the paper says. Noting that Washington did not issue such warnings even in the wake of Armenia’s troubled 2008 presidential election, it too suggests that geopolitical considerations might have been behind the U.S. move.
“It is not clear to whom the U.S. Embassy referred when it spoke of ‘individuals who directly interfered in the integrity of the electoral process,’” editorializes “Aravot.” The paper says that thousands of Armenian government loyalists were involved in the fraud. “They have been integral parts of a well-oiled [vote rigging] machine for 20 years,” it says. “How justified would it be to punish them?”
“Zhoghovurd” says that even if the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) succeeds in appealing to the Constitutional Court to annul the official results of the constitutional referendum its chances of success will be minimal. The paper wonders whether the opposition party will manage to collect the signatures of at least 27 parliamentarians needed for lodging such an appeal. It says the HAK may simply be trying to show its supporters that it did everything in its power to try to thwart President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional reform.