In what it called fresh evidence of serious fraud, the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) reported on Wednesday huge discrepancies between official results of the December 6 constitutional referendum in five precincts in Yerevan.
Levon Zurabian, an HAK leader, showed journalists purported copies of vote protocols by the precinct election commissions indicating that most local voters rejected President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional changes. He then compared them with final Central Election Commission (CEC) figures showing overwhelming “Yes” votes in those communities.
In one of them, the CEC reported 1,155 “Yes” votes and “92” No votes. But according to the protocol which Zurabian said was signed by the local precinct commission members, the constitutional amendments were actually defeated by 421 votes to 343.
In another precinct, the commission protocol cited by the HAK representative showed 156 votes for and 426 votes against the amendments envisaging Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic. However, the CEC registered 418 “Yes” and 169 “No” votes there.
Zurabian portrayed this conflicting data as further proof that the Sarkisian administration rigged the referendum. “People spent the whole night fixing numbers, forging signatures, drawing up new protocols [in polling stations,]” he told reporters. “Even that wasn’t enough. They had to rig even precinct protocols.”
Zurabian said that he has submitted these documents to Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian. “We are appealing to the prosecutor-general to investigate these falsifications and identify and punish the guilty individuals,” he said.
The opposition party headed by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian released the purported evidence of massive vote rigging three days after the CEC rejected its demand to annul the official vote results. The HAK now plans to take its case to the Constitutional Court. But it needs to obtain the signatures of at least 27 parliament deputies in order to lodge such an appeal.
Only 17 members of the 131-seat National Assembly signed up to the HAK appeal as of Wednesday evening. They included Alexander Arzumanian, a former senior HAK figure who has supported Sarkisian’s constitutional reform.
“I am in favor of these changes, but I also stand for a legitimate process,” explained Arzumanian. “Good things done through fraud can’t be good.”
Arzumanian said that even if the HAK collects a sufficient number of signatures the Constitutional Court, whose chairman Gagik Harutiunian was personally involved in the drafting of the controversial amendments, will almost certainly reject the appeal. “That structure has never delivered substantiated verdicts,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).