A leader of the pro-government majority in Armenian’s dismissed on Tuesday opposition claims that it failed to ratify a controversial agreement signed by the Armenian government with Russia’s Gazprom gas monopoly.
Armenia’s leading opposition forces say that Monday’s parliament vote on the agreement boycotted by their deputies is null and void because of serious procedural violations. They argue that 77 members of the 131-seat National Assembly voted for it by hand and bypassed the parliament’s Counting Commission.
Opposition lawmakers point to the parliament’s statutes stipulating that the commission has to organize and count votes if the assembly’s electronic voting system is not used. Speaker Hovik Abrahamian ordered a vote by hand after opposition deputy Zaruhi Postanjian controversially collected electronic voting cards from about two dozen of her pro-government colleagues.
Davit Harutiunian, the chairman of the parliament’s legal committee affiliated with the ruling Republican Party (HHK), dismissed the opposition arguments as “very weak.” Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Harutiunian said the Counting Commission is supposed to handle only secret ballots.
Postanjian, who represents the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, brushed aside Harutiunian’s remarks and accused him of misleading the public. She said the gas agreement’s ratification declared by the parliament leadership amounts to an “organized crime.”
Zharangutyun as well as two other opposition parties and the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) announced later on Monday they will ask the Constitutional Court to invalidate the vote result.
Nikol Pashinian, an opposition deputy not affiliated with any of the four parties, questioned the wisdom of such an appeal, however. “You dispute in the Constitutional Court a result which you don’t accept. Frankly, I believe that we actually achieved the result which we sought. Namely, the agreement was not ratified,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Pashinian said that the Constitutional Court is a “government appendage” that will almost certainly reject the opposition appeal. That, he said, would only strengthen the government’s case in the dispute.