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‘Election Campaigning’ By Police Investigated


Armenia - Vladimir Gasparian (L), the chief of the Armenian police, argues with a protester in Yerevan, 26Jun2015.

The Armenian police on Friday pledged to investigate opposition allegations that some of their officers are illegally campaigning for Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian’s reelection.

Nikol Pashinian, Markarian’s main opposition challenger in Sunday’s mayoral elections, publicized earlier in the day what he described as documents proving vote irregularities planned or already committed by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Most of those documents allegedly detail vote buying operations by HHK campaign offices in Yerevan.

Pashinian also demonstrated a purported list of police officers who have pledged to earn the HHK and Markarian a particular number of votes. Armenian law bans law-enforcement personnel from campaigning for parties or individual election candidates.

The chief of the national police, Vladimir Gasparian, ordered an internal inquiry into the allegations, his spokesman Ashot Aharonian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). Aharonian did not comment further.

The HHK, meanwhile, dismissed Pashinian’s documents as a fraud.

During the mayoral race and recent parliamentary elections, the HHK has been repeatedly accused by the Armenian opposition of buying votes and forcing public sector employees to vote for the party headed by President Serzh Sarkisian. It has denied that.

In late March, an Armenian civic group tricked the principals of over a hundred public schools into confessing that they told their staffs and students’ parents to vote for the HHK in the April 2 elections. None of them has been fired or prosecuted for what opposition and civic activists see as illegal campaigning.

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