The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) is illegally using government resources in its parliamentary election campaign, the country’s leading anti-corruption watchdog claimed on Wednesday.
The Anti-Corruption Center (ACC), the Armenian affiliate of Transparency International, said it has documented 10 cases of central or local government officials working for HHK campaign offices or participating in campaign events organized by the party during their work hours. Schoolteachers have done the same on at least six occasions, it said.
“There have been 13 cases where opposition forces faced obstacles to finding space for campaign offices or organizing events,” Varuzhan Hoktanian, the program director at the ACC, told a news conference. “This also constitutes abuse of administrative resources.”
Hoktanian said government bodies have also allocated additional poverty benefits to some voters. He said such aid amounts to vote buying which is illegal in Armenia.
The HHK was similarly accused of heavy reliance on its government levers during parliamentary and presidential elections held in the past. The party headed by President Serzh Sarkisian always denied any wrongdoing.
ACC monitoring has found that at least two other election contenders, Gagik Tsarukian’s electoral alliance and the Armenian Revival party of Artur Baghdasarian, have also handed out vote bribes.
A representative of the Tsarukian Bloc, Davit Vorskanian, challenged the ACC to produce evidence of the alleged buying by his alliance. Hoktanian said the watchdog will publicize it shortly.
Tsarukian has repeatedly promised cash and other material aid to voters during his nationwide campaign trips. The Central Election Commission warned him last week that such pledges amount to vote buying.