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Opposition Deplores ‘Fraud Cover-Up’


Armenia - An official opens a ballot box after the end of voting in a constitutional referendum, Yerevan, 6Dec2015.

Armenia - An official opens a ballot box after the end of voting in a constitutional referendum, Yerevan, 6Dec2015.

The Armenian authorities have failed to properly investigate any of the numerous cases of serious fraud reported during last month’s constitutional referendum, two leading opposition parties claimed on Wednesday.

Senior representatives of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties argued that only three persons have so far been charged in referendum-related criminal investigations.

One of them, Zaven Mirijanian, received last week a suspended two-month prison sentence for attempting to bribe an opposition member of an election commission in Yerevan into turning a blind eye into a miscounting of ballots. Mirijanian, who is a local government official in the city’s central administrative district, was arrested on the eve of the December 6 referendum after the HAK presented prosecutors with video evidence of the bribery attempt.

Two other government loyalists were charged later in December with illegally voting in place of other citizens. Law-enforcement bodies have not levelled accusations against other individuals despite several dozen criminal cases opened by them.

Armen Khachatrian, an HAK representative, said the authorities have still not acted on documentary evidence of other falsifications submitted by his party. It includes official documents showing significant discrepancies between referendum results in five Yerevan precincts.

Armen Martirosian, Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman, said that the authorities have had enough time to prosecute many more people. “The authorities just can’t break up their army of vote falsifiers in the run-up to the 2017 parliamentary elections,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Those individuals are sure that they enjoy impunity and that even if 10 or 15 of them are punished others will think twice before again engaging in fraud.”

Vahram Baghdasarian, a leading member of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), dismissed the opposition claims. “There have been no elections in the world that made everyone happy,” he said.

The European Union and the United States have urged the authorities to properly investigate the “credible” fraud allegations. They have warned that failure to do so would compromise the legitimacy of the official referendum results showing a “Yes” vote for Sarkisian’s constitutional changes.

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