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Another Election Official Arrested


Armenia – Ballots recounted at the Prosecutor-General’s office following May 31 elections in Yerevan 03Jun2009
The official, Onik Aleksanian, is the third person prosecuted in connection with reported irregularities that marred the vote.

Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) said Aleksanian is suspected of falsifying election results in his precinct located in the city’s Malatia-Sebastia districts. It gave no details.

It was not immediately clear if the official is related to Samvel Aleksanian, one of the country’s wealthiest men holding sway in Malatia-Sebastia. A longtime backer of President Serzh Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Aleksanian has long been accused of voter intimidation, vote buying and other irregularities.

The official results in this and two other Malatia-Sebastia polling stations were annulled on Thursday by higher-level election commissions because of what they described as serious fraud.

Malatia-Sebastia was the scene of the largest number of irregularities that were reported by the Armenian opposition, mass media and independent observers on election day. The reports led to the recounting of ballots cast in about a dozen local precincts. A member of one of the local precinct commissions and another Malatia-Sebastia resident were arrested by the SIS on Tuesday on charges of stuffing “fake ballots” marked for the HHK.

In a related development, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Friday demanded that the Central Election Commission (CEC) invalidate its entire results and re-run the elections because of what the opposition alliance considers widespread fraud. The HAK said it submitted to the CEC evidence of various violations registered during the election campaign, polling day and the ensuing vote recounts.

“Irregularities had a systematic character and distorted the real picture of the will of our people,” Avetis Avagian, a senior HAK representative, told RFE/RL. He said the HAK will go to court if its demand is rejected by the CEC.
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