From “civilized” to “shameful”: The assessment of Yerevan observers

All in all, 5 953 observers are following today’s elections for the Yerevan City Council. They represent 29 local and one international organization. The local “Choice is yours” NGO is represented by 900 observers.

The elections are being observed by just one international organization – the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, represented by 15 observers. This is the case, despite the fact that the same international organizations attach great importance to the process of formation of the fist City Council of Yerevan.Representatives of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities visit different polling stations over the day, trying not to ignore any precinct. What have the observers registered today? They usually don’t speak on the election day, they only watch and refrain from assessments, noting that they will present the preliminary results at a press conference on June 1st.

Other international organizations are following the elections at distance. For example, Director of the Europe Department of the Freedom House Vladimir Shkolnikov declared that “the elections of May 31 are an opportunity to regain trust and this opportunity should not be missed.”

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is also watching the elections to see whether state of democratic governance has improved in the country or not.

Unlike the foreign counterparts, the local observers say a little more today. President of the “Free Society Institute” Edgar Hakobyan has been at the polling station #9/10 since morning. “No violations, no emergency situations have been registered,” he told “Radiolur.” “The voting is very civilized, the turnout is very high,” Edgar Hakobyan said.

President of he Transparency International Amalia Kostanyan gave a quite different assessment of the voting process. She said the observers of the organization had been working at polling station #8. Without extra comments Amalia Kostanyan said that what was happening there was shameful. The Transparency International is going to present a complete report tomorrow.

One of the observers did not escape violation. The accident happened at polling station #8/01 at the moment 100 ballots were stuffed into the box. Violation was applied against observer of the Transparency International Sona Ayvazyan, who tried to interfere. The organization is preparing to present a compete report on this and other cases of violation tomorrow.

“The Choice is yours” NGO has also received alarms about election frauds, but its observers preferred to refrain from providing any information today.

As for the Armenian Helsinki Committee represented by 120 observers, President of the organization Avetik Iskhanyan told “Radiolur:

“Our organization is carrying out an observation mission in Arabkir community, but we are communicating with many other organizations, and I receive alarms from many precincts. I have heard about cases of violation in Shengavit and Davitashen communities, there has been a scuffle in Malatsia Sebastia. As for Arabkir community, we have not noticed serious infringements at polling stations. In one precinct we have seen a member of the electoral commission handing two ballots to the voter, but as a whole, the situation is still surprisingly quiet. Let’s see what happens later.”

Observers usually start publicizing their conclusions the day following the poll. At least one week is needed for final conclusion.


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