Russian Kommersant daily reports:
Yesterday the PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) spring session opened in Strasbourg. First the delegates discussed the recent Russian presidential election, unanimously acknowledging it unfair and unjust, and even tried to find measures to be taken against Russia. Nonetheless one shouldn’t rule out the possibility of taking measures against Armenia before it comes to Russia: Yesterday the presidential election in that country caused a big scandal in the PACE.
Row over Armenia
The biggest yesterday’s scandal concerned discussing the situation in Armenia. During the morning session, Britain’s John Prescott, ex-Deputy Prime Minister in Tony Blair’s government, delivered his report on the recent presidential election in Armenia, which was even less critical than that on Russia’s election. Mr Prescott stated that it complied with the standards of the Council of Europe. The lack of criticism about Armenia though roused the indignation of several delegates.
Hungary’s Zsolt Németh reminded that the Armenian election resulted in civil unrest, with 9 people killed. “The Council of Europe legitimizes the anti-democratic policy of the Armenian government! If we are unable to influence or change anything, let’s give up the practice of sending observers there! We need a thorough evaluation of the monitor missions,” claimed the excited Mr Németh.
Sweden’s Marietta Purbe-Lundin, member of the PACE mission to Armenia, described emotionally that in her presence vote fraud took place. “Hundreds of ballots for Levon Ter-Petrosyan were rendered to be for Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. The members of the electoral commission were aware of what they were doing and that I saw it, but they were far from embarrassed. There were Mr Sargsyan’s observers at the polling station, who so much threatened everyone there – my interpreter begged me not to make any remarks to them. I was so frustrated that couldn’t get a wink of sleep that night,” the parliamentarian complained.
Azerbaijan’s Samad Seidov was even more critical of Armenia, “Mr Prescott says that the Armenian election complies with the standards of the Council of Europe. What does he mean? Have murders become the standards of the Council of Europe? Here 9 people killed were mentioned, but no one recollected those died in jail, or thousands of political prisoners, including the members of the Armenian Parliament. Why is the world so closely watching the situation in Tibet, paying no attention to the arbitrariness in Armenia?”
Nevertheless, John Prescott and several other observers stated that the critics of Armenia’s election were too emotional and biased, whereas there were no shocking facts of electoral fraud registered.
All in all, the dispute is sure to continue. It was decided in the morning that ad hoc debates on Armenia be held Thursday, which means that the majority of the delegates rather disagree with the positive conclusions of Mr Prescott. More to the point, Russia’s representatives told Kommersant that the question of overhauling and confirming the credentials of the Armenian delegation might be raised during one of the forthcoming PACE sessions.