Election Day, Wednesday, a woman named Louisa
who lives in the Arabkir area of Yerevan received
a knock on her door and was offered 5,000 drams
(about $8.60) if she would sign an agreement to
vote for President Robert Kocharyan. She was also
offered a ride to and from her voting precinct
The campaigners took Louisa's name and passport
number. Louisa took the money and the ride.
"One way or another I was going to vote
for Kocharyan," she said later. "But
the money won't do any harm."
Actions such as money for votes were among accounts
of violations leading a collection of foreign
monitors to conclude that the first round of the
2003 Presidential election did not meet international
standards of a democratic election.
A proxy of Stepan Demirchyan complained that
at poling station 260710 in Echmiadzin at about
8:30 a.m., when around 30 votes had been cast,
a group appeared and put more than 80 pre-marked
ballots into the box.
The accusation was recorded by a team of foreign
observers on the site and similar violations were
reported in three other Echmiadzin stations around
At School No. 2, Elena Paronyan, a proxy of the
Armenian Communist Party reported that a group
including MP Hakob Hakobyan, and Robert Kocharyan's
local campaign manager Hrachik Abgaryan, who is
also the Mayor of Echmiadzin, "surrounded
the electoral box. Whoever you complain to, they
shut your mouth. They did their job laughing and
At another site a proxy, who wished to remain
anonymous, says about 30 "broad-shouldered
men" surrounded the electoral box in three
rows, and "the number of electoral papers
they put into the box corresponds to the number
of people registered in Armenia but living in
other countries. They did their calculations in
Complaints were made to Electoral Commission
president Artak Sahradyan who said: "They
went out and left without saying anything. I did
not prevent that. What should I do?"
The editorial office of ArmeniaNow received a
call from School No. 172 in Yerevan that a man
took a bundle of ballots from underneath his coat
and put them in the ballot box. At that location
Demirchyan proxy Kamo Avetisyan claimed that about
200 false ballots had been cast.
Anna Arzakanyan, an observer with the Non-Governmental
Organization "The Choice is Yours" said
she witnessed the ballot box stuffing and that
police on the scene did not intervene though they
were allowed to. Electoral Commission representative
Lianna Mkrtchyan says she was talking and saw
Five Opposition candidates signed a letter to
the Electoral Commission, citing 10 violations,
including charges that names of the deceased were
included on voter registration lists.
letter also alleged that a group of young men
in the village of Ohanyan tried to stuff a ballot
box and when they were stopped, stole the box.
Candidate Vazgen Manoukyan assessed the process
of elections in 2003 as worse than in 1996 and
"I have much information," the former
Prime Minister said. "There probably were
violations such as filling voting boxes in 1996,
but that time the majority of violations were
made through registrations. This is being organized
by the authorities intentionally in order to guarantee
Adrine Avagyan, 27, proxy for Manoukyan in election
district No. 40, says she was attacked when she
tried to interfere with a man who was putting
multiple ballots in the box.
"I wasn't able to take the ballots from
him," Avagyan said. "He threw me to
the ground and continued to beat and curse."
Election Commission member Venera Stepanyan says
that at her poling station in Nairy Zaryan school
Election Day went smoothly until about 30 minutes
before closing time.
At around 7:30 p.m.: "About 20 people gathered
and created disorder. They stood near the ballot
box. We told them to stay away from the box but
they didn't. Then the lights went off and noise
Nubar Gevorgyan, who was in charge of watching
the box said men were trying to take away the
"When the lights went off I put my hand
on the box but when they pushed me away I didn't
see what happened next," Gevorgyan said,
showing his hand which had been scraped when the
box was pulled away.
an upstairs station in the same school at around
4 p.m. a proxy chased but was unable to catch
a man they say put several ballots into the box.)
Sophelia Vardanyan, who teaches Armenian language
and was standing as an observer for "The
Choice Is Yours", was pushed away by the
She was crying of insult and trembling of fear
following the incident.
"I've been respecting Kocharyan until this
moment," she said. "Now he is disgusting
to me. How can I register these breaches? I can't
write down incorrect information. But I am afraid
to tell the truth. Who knows who is who? My son
is attending this school. I don't want somebody
to hurt him."
Proxies and Commission members opened the box
to inspect the wrinkled ballots and found they
contained votes for President Kocharyan. It turns
out that, although the ballots contained Commission
member signatures, the stamp necessary to validate
the votes had come from a different precinct.
(On the night before an election, Commission members
sign ballots which are then placed in a safe.
After a vote has been made, a different Commission
member than the one who signed the ballot, stamps
the ballot in the presence of the voter, who then
places the ballot in the box. It is possible that
the men obtained the signed ballots overnight
and hoped that the Commission members would only
look at the signature and not the stamp. In any
case, 150 votes with the wrong stamp were declared
Zhanna Antonyan of Yerevan says that neither
she nor her 25-year old daughter's names were
listed on a voting register, but that her husband,
who died seven years ago, was.
She said she would not bother with going to the
court to have her name restored.
"I'm really tired of doing this every election,"
she said. "Let them do whatever they want
with my vote."