“Everyone, including even representatives of governing circles of Armenia, are worried, rather than enthusiastic, about [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan,” claims “168 Zham.” “Everyone knows or feels that Lavrov has come to take something away. Right now quite dynamic developments are unfolding around Armenia: from the new opportunities created by the lifting of Western sanctions against Iran to a more active NATO involvement in our region. These and many other realities have opened up new opportunities and prospects for Armenia. It is in Armenia’s national interests to realize them, while challenging Russian geopolitical interests. So the main objective of Lavrov’s visit is to ensure that Armenia’s authorities do not even think about utilizing the new opportunities.”
“Zhoghovurd” reports on the authorities’ plans to ease legal requirements for voter identification in Armenia’s polling stations ahead of the December 6 referendum on President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional changes. In particular, they want to allow those Armenians who do not have passports to cast ballots after showing election officials their plastic ID cards. The paper agrees with opposition allegations that this is aimed at facilitating fraudulent multiple voting by government loyalists.
“The picture would not have been so hopeless and it would not have been possible to accuse the authorities of vote rigging had they agreed to introduce a system of inking voters’ fingers,” continues “Zhoghovurd.” “But the authorities are stubbornly opposing the application of this [anti-fraud] instrument. As a result, we are left to conclude that the sole hope of these authorities and the only guarantee of their survival is vote falsification.”
“Aravot” recalls that during Armenia’s 1998 presidential race the mayor of an Armenian village not named by it was told by the central government to ensure the “right” outcome of the ballot in his community or have his arrested son receive a long prison sentence for an unrelated crime. “Note that there was no violence, no ballot box stuffing or even vote buying in this case,” it says in an editorial. “There were elements of a crime but it was quite difficult to prove them.” The paper says that there are also lots of other methods of vote manipulation in Armenia.