Opposition Claims Voter Registration Fraud In Yerevan

Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia’s main opposition forces on Monday accused the authorities of illegally registering scores of pro-government voters from provinces in Yerevan to boost the ruling Republican Party’s (HHK) chances of winning the forthcoming mayoral elections.

“We are receiving reports that residents of regions are brought and registered here,” said Naira Zohrabian of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).

“Our officials are now dealing with that,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We have very serious concerns about the registration of non-residents of Yerevan for the purpose of their participation in the elections. This is our number one concern.”

Zohrabian said that BHK representatives will meet with leaders of the established opposition parties in the coming ways to discuss these concerns and try to work out “mechanisms” for neutralizing the alleged inclusion of provincial residents on Yerevan’s electoral rolls.

The BHK allegations were echoed by two of those parties. Lyudmila Sargsian, a parliament deputy from the Armenian National Congress (HAK), argued that the total number of eligible voters in Yerevan has increased by about 7,000 to almost 818,000 since the February 18 presidential election. “This shows that ‘preparatory’ work [for fraud] is already underway,” she said.

Zaruhi Postanjian, a lawmaker from the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, said the opposition should focus its anti-fraud efforts on what she described as inflated voter lists. She also said that some provincial governors make no secret of their involvement in the mayoral race in the capital.

“Regional governors have not participated in elections in Yerevan before,” Postanjian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “This testifies to a serious sense of fear [within the government.] They realize how few real votes they have in Yerevan. That is why they are getting the governors involved.”

Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of the Republican Party (HHK), dismissed these claims. “I don’t know of such cases,” Zohrabian said. He said that the ruling party is not interested in fraudulent practices because opinion polls show that it will win the elections.

Zohrabian also claimed that Republicans governors are simply urging their relatives and friends in Yerevan to vote for the HHK.  “If somebody has friends or relatives in Yerevan he may call them and ask to vote for a particular party,” he said. “This is not illegal.”