The court received last week separate appeals from the opposition alliances led by former Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian and two smaller groups that failed to win any seats in the Armenian parliament. They claimed to have submitted evidence of irregularities which seriously affected the outcome of the June 20 elections.
Pashinian and his political allies maintain that the vote was free and fair. They point to its largely positive assessment by European election observers.
The opposition forces appealed to the Constitutional Court after the Central Election Commission (CEC) refused to annul the vote results, saying that they have not substantiated their allegations of widespread fraud.
The court will question representatives of the CEC as well as the Armenian police and prosecutors during the hearings. It has agreed to allow Pashinian’s Civil Contract party to participate in the hearings as a “third party.”
At the start of the proceedings two opposition plaintiffs demanded that one of the court’s nine judges, Vahe Grigorian, recuse himself from the case. Ara Zohrabian of the Zartonk (Awakening) party argued that Grigorian has represented Pashinian in Armenian and European courts in the past.
A representative of the main opposition Hayastan alliance led by former President Robert Kocharian claimed that Grigorian cannot make impartial decisions because of having represented relatives of protesters killed during Kocharian’s rule in a high-profile trial of the ex-president.
The court rejected those demands, saying that it has already discussed the matter and found no conflict of interest in Grigorian’s involvement in the consideration of the opposition appeals.
Grigorian said, for his part, that he is ready to “present my explanations regarding that.” He hinted that similar questions could be raised about the impartiality of Hrayr Tovmasian, another Constitutional Court member who used to be affiliated with Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
The HHK and another opposition party now make up the Pativ Unem alliance, one of the four groups challenging the official vote results.
Grigorian and three other Constitutional Court judges were installed by Armenia’s outgoing parliament controlled by Pashinian.