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Yerevan sketch show: By-election in the best tradition of Hollywood actions films

13 January 2010 [15:00] - TODAY.AZ
Armenian opposition figures, human right activists and other more or less independent analysts and experts will remember Sunday for a long time.
The so-called by-elections were held in Constituency No. 10 in the Armenian capital. Why so-called? Because they were pure electoral bedlam. A good series of  sketch shows could be shot based on real events.  

I think foreign and local observers and those who watched the vote on television, radio or Internet enjoyed the reality show most of all.

First and foremost, one needs to pay attention to the list of candidates for the only vacant seat that appeared after entrepreneur Khachatur Sukiasyan rejected his mandate.

The MP mandate was contested by three candidates —  Haykakan Zhamanak editor, Armenian National Congress opposition representative Nicol Pashinyan who is currently under arrest, Marxist Party leader David Akopyan, whose nomination was  for the sake of appearance, and Ara Simonian, representative of the National Unity Party, and a relative of Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglaryan, who is a member of the Republican Party. This party is led by Armenia’s incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan.

Candidates contesting the mandate in District No. 10 Amayak Hovannisyan and member of Republic Party Suren Surenyan declined to struggle in favor of Nicola Pashinyan at the last moment which impeded the latter to secure a final victory.

The voting started early morning as usual. However, voters did not hurry to cast ballots, which once again resulted in a low voter turnout. But after awhile, turnout figures paled into insignificance as the events in the constituency began to unfold in the best tradition of Hollywood action films.

Armenian media reported in a loud voice that photographer of the opposition Fourth Power and Aravot newspapers Gagik Shamshyan faced a violence at Polling Station 10/19/10 in capital’s election district. The nature of violence was not reported

Later it became known that photographer faced violence when he was photographing as chairman of the commission embraced the voters and accompanied them to the voting booth.  Apparently, the chairman who felt like a Hollywood star decided to teach a malicious photographer in the best traditions of the relationship with the paparazzi in these cases.
However, this was only the beginning. Later, information on possible beatings, harassment of journalists and ordinary voters were received every hour.

For example, later it become known that Petros Makeyan, the leader of the Democratic Fatherland party and Pashinyan’s representative, has become another victim of the parliamentary elections in the 10th district of Yerevan. He was severely beaten at Polling Station 10 / 9 located in the John Kirakosyan School. Unknown people unexpectedly attacked Makeyan and Pashinyan’s other two supporters and severely beat them. All three were taken to hospital. Nothing is known about the motive for the attack. Maybe someone just wanted to stretch the bones ...

Nevertheless, Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission stated with certainty that it did not receive any complaints about violations of the electoral process in the tenth district of Yerevan. In the meantime, the commission did not specify it did not receive complaints either because it does not accept such complaints or cold-blooded men of the Armenian Central Election Commission do not consider beating and attacks on observers and journalists something out of the ordinary.

Headquarters of candidate Ara Simonyan also said did not observe any violations ...

Already in the evening it became known that the forecasts of most observers were fully justified. One needs not to be Nostradamus to understand even before the elections that Gagik Beglaryan’s relative will win the by-elections. He garnered over 6,000 votes. His main challenger Nicola Pashinyan received more than 4,000 votes and Marxist Party Leader Davit Akopyan whose presence among candidates, at least, causes a smile, won only 287 votes.

According to preliminary data, 13,566 of the 55,861 voters came to polls which makes up 24.3 percent of the electorate. Thus, the by-election for the 10th district, unlike regular parliamentary elections in May 2007, marked an extremely low voter turnout.

What does this show? Naturally, nobody trusts elections held by Armenia's current government. It would have been easier to simply appoint Ara the new MP. The meager Armenian budget would have been saved and no one in Yerevan would have objected, not to mention Pashinyan who is already in jail…

Hamid Hamidov
Day.Az writer

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