A senior Armenian government official strongly denied on Wednesday a newspaper claim that his wife running a state kindergarten in Yerevan is illegally campaigning for his victory in the April 2 parliamentary elections.
Arman Sahakian, head of the government’s Department on State Property Management, is running for parliament as a candidate of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) in a Yerevan constituency. His father Galust is the outgoing parliament speaker and a deputy chairman of the HHK.
Citing an unnamed source, the “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily said on Tuesday that Arman Sahakian’s wife, Seda Hakobian, has instructed her subordinates in the Yerevan kindergarten No. 38 to have their relatives residing outside the city register in the constituency and vote for him.
“These are false and absolutely provocative rumors,” Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “There were not and there could not be such practices,” he said, accusing unnamed rivals of seeking to tarnish his “good reputation” in the electoral district.
“You all know who owns the ‘Haykakan Zhamanak’ newspaper,” he said in an apparent reference to Nikol Pashinian, an opposition leader and former editor of the daily critical of the government.
Just hours before the “Haykakan Zhamanak” report was posted on the paper’s website, Pashinian claimed that “a relative of a high-ranking National Assembly official” has abused “administrative resources” for electoral purposes.
Several kindergarten employees also denied the report when they spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We love and respect our director a lot,” one of them said.
The director herself declined to comment, however.
The HHK and its individual candidates, among them many central and local government officials, have long been accused by political opponents of illegally using government levers to win elections. The party headed by President Serzh Sarkisian has always denied that.