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Kocharian’s Bloc Opens Hundreds Of Campaign Offices


Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian (C) and other leaders of the newly established Hayastan alliance march through the center of Yerevan, May 9, 2021.

An opposition alliance led by former President Robert Kocharian on Friday claimed to have opened about 800 campaign offices across Armenia for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Armen Gevorgian, the Hayastan (Armenia) alliance’s top campaign manager, said they will report to regional campaign headquarters also opened by the bloc.

Kocharian and two opposition parties allied to him set up Hayastan on May 9 one day before the snap polls were formally scheduled for June 20. The bloc is expected to be one of the main challengers of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his Civil Contract party.

Although campaigning for the polls will officially start on June 7, all major election contenders have effectively launched their campaigns. In particular, Kocharian has been holding meetings with members and supporters of his bloc in various parts of the country.

Gevorgian said that Hayastan will be holding both indoor and outdoor rallies in the coming weeks.

“Strangely enough, our supporters prefer indoor meetings which allow them to directly communicate with alliance representatives and leaders in a question-and-answer format,” Gevorgian told a news conference.

Aram Vardevanian, Hayastan’s campaign spokesman, strongly denied allegations by some government loyalists that Kocharian’s bloc is getting ready to hand out cash to voters. He said it has alerted law-enforcement authorities about groups of government-linked “provocateurs” reportedly offering to buy votes on behalf of the bloc.

“We have nothing to do with vote buying, fraud or any other activity of this kind. We are the first to strongly oppose that,” he said.

Vardevanian claimed that the Armenian government itself is trying to buy votes with additional economic aid allocated to mostly rural communities in recent weeks. He singled out a government announcement about mowers and similar agricultural equipment donated to five remote villages earlier this week.

Vahagn Aleksanian, a spokesman for Pashinian’s party, denied any connection between the aid and the elections.

“Let them count how many community projects have been subsidized by the state for the last three years preceding this pre-election period,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Aleksanian said he too has heard rumors about vote buying planned by Hayastan. But he acknowledged that he has seen no evidence in support of those claims so far.

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