appears that, as expected, Robert Kocharyan has
won a second term as President of Armenia.
With at least 64 percent of votes counted from
yesterday's runoff Kocharyan had 349,757 (69.6
percent) to challenger Stepan Demirchyan's 153,065
Kocharyan's 39 percent lead over Demirchyan is
even greater than the February 19 first-round
vote when the margin between the two was 21 percent.
But also as expected, and in a repeat of first-round
voting fallout, international observers invited
to monitor independent Armenia's fourth Presidential
Election released conclusions that do not flatter
the country's attempt at democratic process.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) through its Office for Democratic Institutions
and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) deployed
200 monitors for both rounds of the election.
"I am disappointed; we had hoped for better,"
said Peter Eicher, head of the ODIHR mission,
in a press conference today. "Once again
we witnessed significant problems on election
day, and the period between the two rounds did
not meet international standards for an open and
fair political campaign."
Lord Russell Johnston, head of the PACE delegation,
commended the citizenry of Armenia for its conscientious
participation in the elections but chastised the
Armenia to advance democratically and to meet
its commitments to the Council of Europe, we need
the same attitude from the senior political leadership,"
In response to a journalist's question about
possible reprimands against Armenia by the Council,
Johnston said it is not the Council's method to
"punish" but rather to offer suggestions
In an eight-page report of the International
Election Observation Mission, the OSCE/PACE delegation
addressed several areas of concern. (To see the
report in full, go to http://www.osce.org/odihr)
- "Observers reported that in general technical
procedures were correctly followed, but serious
irregularities, in particular ballot box stuffing,
marred the process around the country."
- Election Administration: The makeup of election
commissions was "even more imbalanced in
favor of the incumbent than in the first round.
- "The campaign teams of both candidates
complained to international observers about
harassment by the other side."
- Media coverage: "In the period between
the first and second rounds, publicly-funded
TV comprehensively failed to meet its obligation
outlined in the Law on Radio and TV Broadcasting,
as well as in a CEC (Central Election Commission)
decision of 15 January, to provide voters with
information about the candidates free from prejudice
"The President received 69 percent of primetime
coverage on public TV news and analytical programs,
almost all of it positive or neutral (93 percent).
In contrast, Stepan Demirchyan received 31 percent
of the coverage, of which 67 percent was negative.
"The print media continued to show clear
bias in favor of their chosen candidate to the
extent that it was almost impossible for a voter
to rely on any one source of information to
gain an objective view of the campaign."
- Vote count and tabulation: "Observers
reported that in general technical procedures
were correctly followed and assessed the process
positively in 87 percent of polling stations
"However, the voting process was marred
by serious irregularities in a large number
of polling stations. International observers
documented and confirmed ballot stuffing in
more than 40 polling stations around the country.
"Intimidation was reported in over 10 polling
stations, mostly proxies representing the opposition
candidate. The presence of unauthorized persons,
including government officials, in polling stations
(24 percent) was once more a concern. In a few
cases proxies or unauthorized persons supporting
the incumbent were seen to be exerting undue
influence in polling stations."
In one of the few positive comments, the report
commended Armenia for its first televised candidate
debate (March 3).
The OSCE/PACE conclusions are consistent with
reports received by ArmeniaNow of ballot stuffing,
fraudulent documents, inaccurate voting lists
and general intimidation of voters.
And while most reports are of wrongdoing by Kocharyan
supporters, allegations of violations are also
aimed at the Demirchyan camp, including:
- Former Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications
Edward Madatyan is said to have entered Erebuni
School No. 68 polling station accompanied by
10 others and stuffed a stack of ballots into
the box while also making derogatory remarks
and calling Kocharyan a "Turk".
- At polling station 0400/18 commission members
prevented an unknown man from putting nine ballots
for Demirchyan into the box. Similar incidents
were also reported in three stations in Echmiadzin.
- Demirchyan proxy and Hanrapetutyun Party leader
Albert Bazeyan is said to have entered polling
station 0332/15 carrying a gun (a violation
of law) and to have threatened election commission
Today Bazeyan denied the allegation, telling
ArmeniaNow that he was in the Gegharkunik region
all day, and claiming that he never carries
a gun. "We have already developed immunity
to rumors that are spread by authorities,"
In addition to several accounts of alleged fraud
favoring Kocharyan reported yesterday on this
site, others have surfaced including:
- At polling station 190 Demirchyan proxy Laura
Gevorgyan accused election commission member
Armen Fidasyan of ballot stuffing in favor of
Kocharyan, saying that she tried to stop him
but was unsuccessful.
Witnesses confirmed Gevorgyan's story, including
voter Marina Maloyan who said police did not
respond to the incident, but instead "took
me by my hands and turned me out".
Between the preliminary and the runoff, several
Demirchyan election commission members were
replaced by those believed to be sympathetic
to Kocharyan. Several incidents were reported
of new commission members engaged in ballot
- When Ruben Khnkoyan went to vote, he found
signatures for voting in front of the names
of eight relatives who have lived in Russia
for the past several years (and suspects that
the "votes" were recorded for Kocharyan).
Whether recorded in the reports of foreign agencies
or in the notebooks of local journalists, abuse
of voting rights that serve the ambitions of politicians
have quite another effect on the populace.
Abelyan has seen her husband and two sons, all
proxies, detained by police when they tried to
interfere with what they believed were voting
irregularities. One son's car was confiscated
during an election-related confrontation Wednesday.
"I have been a teacher for 30 years,"
Ruzan told ArmeniaNow. "I always taught my
pupils to be just. From now on I am not going
to teach them things like that. I will be telling
them to do everything possible in this country
for reaching their goals.
"I was persuading my sons not to leave Armenia.
Both are architects and were invited many times
to work abroad. Now I will tell them to leave