Sunday, 31 May 2009

Armenia: travesty of democracy No…

Another farce, another very well and brutally choreographed theatre play called ‘election’ passed in Armenia. I cannot believe I wasted my Sunday following this travesty of democracy. I cannot believe, having the all past/present examples and pretty practical working brain, I still did hope that something could be better this time. But then again, I am optimist by nature, and every time, despite every sign, trying to find something positive, even if there is none out there. The most troubling for me is that I kind of became used of it. This did not cause a feeling of outrage inside me which would normally be the case in similar situation. That’s what scaring me most.

Anyway, I am coping below my twitter updates just for the record, to get a feel of the day. I did not change anything, did not correct typos. I am copying exactly as they appeared on my Twitter page, where you can find their original versions:

· To follow 'official' #Armenia Central Election Commission 'live' results re #Yerevan mayor election: 24 minutes ago

· New prelim.res: some changes in No.2 (now - ruling coalition member BHK) and No.3 (now - opposition ANC) #yerevan #armenia 40 minutes ago

· Prelim res.: Ruling HHK is way ahead, opposition ANC and coalition BHK very close to each other. The rest - small numbers. #yerevan #armenia about 1 hour ago

· Surprise-surprise. First very preliminary results: ruling HHK No.1, opposition ANC No.2 and No.3 coalition member BHK #yerevan #armenia about 1 hour ago

· Hetq: not clear why A1+ web site is blocked. Possible reasons - hacker attack or too many visitors. #yerevan #armenia about 1 hour ago

· RT @onewmphoto US journalist says opposition and govern. HHK neck&neck in Malatia-Sebastia vote count until wads of ballots for HHK #yerevan about 2 hours ago

· 'Opposition will win if manage to monitor the vote count' - Levon Zurabyan. That's a big & key IF... #armenia #yerevan about 2 hours ago

· A1+ just uploaded a brief news report re some election violation on its youtube channel #yerevan #armenia about 2 hours ago

· Opposition youth movement @himaarmenia reports that most popular pro-opposition A1plus Internet site was blocked. #yerevan #armenia about 2 hours ago

· 'Banditism not election' in Malatia-Sebastia district - opposition rep (Arminfo) #yerevan #armenia about 2 hours ago

· @GoldenTent I can open E-channel, but A1+ still down #yerevan #armenia about 3 hours ago in reply to GoldenTent

· RT @caucasusreports #Yerevan elections: Vote-counting abuses reported in some Malatia-Sebastia precincts #armenia about 3 hours ago

· Preliminary voter turnout for #Yerevan mayor leection - 52.85% #armenia about 3 hours ago

· From "civilized" to "shameful": The assessment of local observers re #Yerevan mayor election. #armenia about 4 hours ago

· @GoldenTent same here cannot access A1plus for last half hour or so #Armenia #yerevanabout 4 hours ago in reply to GoldenTent

· First reactions on #Yerevan election by some observers and bloggers #armenia about 4 hours ago

· Widespread violations reported by Heritage party in #Yerevan Malatia district too with party rep calling to annul el. outcome there #armenia about 4 hours ago

· #Armenia opposition Heritage party reports on widespread ballot stuffing just before voting closes, in Davitashen #yerevan (Radio Liberty) about 4 hours ago

· #Armenia Prosecutor General office calls media reports on election violations and fraud a "false rumours" #yerevan about 4 hours ago

· New series of reports by @himaarmenia about ballot stuffing, incluidng some allegedly in presence of US ambassador. #yerevan #armenia about 5 hours ago

· RT @reporter_arm Election fraud (karusel) in Shengavit, #yerevan #armenia (video evidence) about 5 hours ago

· 'Hot' news of the day: Prosperous #Armenia party MP Zohrabyan slaps head of local election district over violations by the latter #yerevan about 5 hours ago

· #Armenia political prisoners cast their vote for #Yerevan mayor election (video) about 5 hours ago

· Tensions rise In #Yerevan amid election fraud claims. #armenia about 6 hours ago

· RT @onewmphoto "...Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count them decide everything" Stalin about 6 hours ago

· #Yerevan mayor election - less than 1 hour to go till vote count starts, which in past tend to be one of the most violation-prone.. #armenia about 6 hours ago

· RT @onewmphoto Good 2 c @himaarmenia (#Armenia opposition youth group) use Twitter as election violation reporting tool... #yerevan about 6 hours ago

· As of 6pm local time, voter turnout for #Yerevan mayor election - 41.66%. #armenia about 6 hours ago

· Details re journalist of #Yerevan daily 168zham and Transp. International observer assaulted; ballot stuffing #armenia about 7 hours ago

· ARF Dashnaktsutyun reports on few attempts of votig using fake passports #yerevan #armenia about 7 hours ago

· Report: journalist of #Yerevan daily 168zham and Transp. International observer assaulted at poll. st. 8/05 No details @himaarmenia #armenia about 7 hours ago

· More reports on various #Yerevan election violations, including ballot stuffing, via @himaarmenia #armenia about 8 hours ago

· All #Armenia pro-opposition newspapers will issue a special editions tomorrow re #yerevan election. (via about 8 hours ago

· Midway through: High voter turnout amid reported bussing of people from provinces. #yerevan #armenia about 8 hours ago

· Reports on clashes between ruling coaliton Republican and Prosperous #Armenia party members over #Yerevan mayor election about 8 hours ago

· Arminfo&FB: Progovernment OYP rep offered #Armenia opposition Heritage #Yerevan election observer Ioannisyan selling protocol of violations about 8 hours ago

· Hundreds bused to #Yerevan on polling day. #armenia about 9 hours ago

· Lines of mini-buses outside #Armenia Football Federation office, pres. - MP Hayrapetyan #Yerevan. Reportedly from Gyumri about 9 hours ago

· RT @ armenialiberty As per 2pm local time, ~ 30% have casted their votes for #Yerevan mayor election #armenia about 9 hours ago

· Residents of #Yerevan 9-16 district told me that local ruling party people drive old people to polling st & 'help' them to vote #armenia about 9 hours ago

· Numerous violations observed during #Yerevan mayor election reported by Caucasus Reports project #armenia about 10 hours ago

· Gyumri mayor (ruling Republican party member) organizes convoy of "voters" to #Yerevan #armenia about 10 hours ago

· Lines of mini-buses outside a poliing station in #Yerevan (photo evidence) - clear violation of #Armenia election code. about 10 hours ago

· The most common violation re #Yerevan mayor election so far seems to be related to busing people from regions to the capital. #armenia about 10 hours ago

· #Armenia political prisoners were allowed to cast their vote at #Yerevan mayor election. about 10 hours ago

· Reports: pro-opposition newspaper CHI journalist Veziryan & 2 others beaten by MP Sargsyan bodyguards #yerevan #armenia about 10 hours ago

· Via @himaarmenia & @arsentg reports of at least 2 separate incidents of beating pro-opposition #Yerevan election observers. #armenia about 11 hours ago

· Numerous similar to @himaarmenia #Yerevan election violations esp. busing people from other places and regions reported by @arsentg #armenia about 11 hours ago

· #Yerevan mayor election as criminal chronicle via @himaarmenia: reports on busing people from regions, bribes, ballot stuffing, open voting about 11 hours ago


Ani said...

No Mika, it was absolutely not a waste of time! When you help shine a light on the shadows, when you help make the invisible visible, it may not change everything immediately, but it does inch the process forward. Maybe it’s two steps forward and one step back, but that still is one step forward, and as Onnik quoted Lao Tzu the other day, you do have to take that first step to get anywhere at all.

Your post reminded me of a column I read in the New York Times op-ed yesterday by Bob Herbert It’s not about the subject at hand, but it can be applied here as well:

“Overload is a real problem. There is a danger that even the most decent of people can grow numb to the unending reports of atrocities occurring all around the globe. […] The tendency to draw an impenetrable psychic curtain across the worst that the world has to offer is understandable. But it’s a tendency, as Elie Wiesel has cautioned, that must be fought.”

Precisely what the perpetrators of actions against the rule of law count on is people “getting used” to the situation, to becoming immune to it and to expect nothing more. On some posts on another blog I read today,, anonymous people were quoted as saying “What can we do? I don’t like it either, but they wanted to do the safe thing…” And also, “Of course,” he said, “that’s all decided. We know who will win. This is Asia, after all. We have to remember we’re not in Europe, the West.”

So the real question is whether the younger generation will simply resign themselves to this way of thinking, or whether they will expect more. I guess we will have to see what transpires in the post-election period to get the answers. But I definitely don’t feel that I wasted my time today, and neither should you. Perhaps it just the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end (??) (@GoldenTent)

sevenontrial said...

ayqarpayqarwe all hoped. thanks for all your updates and links. they were especially important given the attack on A1plus.

artmika said...

Was talking to some friends today. I would describe them as independent minded, moderate opposition supporters. While ridiculing the results of ‘election’ in Yerevan, they feel powerless re possibilities of changes in Armenia via elections, rallies. They said they won’t go today to opposition rally in Yerevan as “this is not the way things could change in Armenia”. They said they will follow the news via Radio Liberty instead. How sad…

Hopefully, this phase will pass, and these election games won’t completely break the hopes for better future in Armenia.

artmika said...

Here we are again. European observers re Yerevan mayor 'election': “considerable step forward” & “in compliance with European standards” (via Radio Liberty). They must be joking or under drugs or something...

tzitzernak2 said...

Artmika- I remember seeing mixed reports during the elections from the European Observers - do you remember which one you heard about on Radio Liberty.

I think they must be on some type of drug- power, wealth, the illusion of doing good - as even the US ambassador was witness to two counts of election fraud.

Also, I heard through word of mouth that Amnesty International pulled out its observers due to safety concerns. Has anyone heard or seen/read that anywhere?

artmika said...

1. Again about that Council of Europe election observers' mission statement. Well, they are barely a mission. They ridiculed not only themselves but the body they represent too.

Look, they came to Yerevan only 2-3 days before the election. Immediately after they made a very ‘brave’ and ‘strict’
statement ("deeply concerned").

They deployed only 12 (!) observers (15, according to other reports) and claimed to monitor around 200 (!) or so polling stations during the day. Add here lunch/dinner breaks. Who are they kidding?!

Of course, I have no doubt that there are people among European observers missions that genuinely care about democracy and their observers’ mission. However, overall, it’s pretty much a failure.

I mentioned already in my previous posts (here are just two examples - one; two) that their presence in past elections had nothing but negative consequences simply serving to legitimise election fraud. They did exactly that during this latest mayoral election too.

P.S. Tzitzernak, no idea about Amnesty’s observers, if any.

2. And the latest news, of course: Armenian opposition decided to boycott Yerevan municipality by refusing to take up their seats. I do support such decision as there is absolutely no point to get in. With such numbers, ruling Republican party is virtually out of control in municipality, and presence of few opposition deputies there will have no effect whatsoever.

spm said...

Ok, they falsified elections again, didnt we know they would? It is time to realize that opposition tactics and strategy does not work. If Levon's candidacy during previous presidential elections was justified, because opposition needed someone of a caliber, it is obvious that:
1. Large layer of population still HATES Levon, for whatever reason. Putting him on ballot for an executive post as Yerevan major was wrong.
2. If there was an overwhelming support of opposition, they would not be able to falsify.

Keeping Levon as the leader of opposition, surrounded by such sidekicks as Demirchian and Sarkisyan kills every possibility that some fresh and young come up in a opposition camp. Actually at the moment ideologically there is no difference between LTP and Serjik. I think they are worth each other.

Anonymous said...

your moderate opposition-minded friends seem very realistic to me. Levon has always been (at best) a distraction toward achieving real change in Armenia.

spm is right: LTP represents nothing positive to the vast majority. While Serj may not be so popular, he is clearly not as HATED. The only hope for positive change (and not just killing the baby in the bathwater) is for a new generation of patriotic oppositionists to be cultivated, and not just retread losers who plundered Armenia in the past, surrounded by the nepotism beneficiaries like semi-imbecile Demirchyan, barking-dog Aram Sargsyan and the failed statesman one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind faithful LTP.

artmika said...

Putting aside for a moment the issue of election violations and fraud, and its effect on people’s turnout at rallies or election itself, I have to agree with Hraparak daily’s assessment today that effectively Armenian opposition failed to garner a widespread support needed for success. Even with the ballot stuffing, turnout for votes was too low (slightly over 50%), especially considering that the Yerevan election was billed as one of national importance and a “2nd round of presidential election”. This is an indication of need for fresh faces and/or new tactics/strategy. Current ones do not work. Most Yerevan residents effectively boycotted elections due to apathy or not being satisfied with current choices on offer.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, Mika, I feel the same. Could have voted had I bothered to get factual registration, but didn't because I wouldn't have voted for any of the candidates.

Had hoped that the ANC would have dropped playing the Turkey and Karabakh card and instead focused on real pressing issues in Yerevan. They are of national significance.

Corruption, environment, rule of law, policing, so many of them, and I do believe that had the opposition actually addressed those issues they might have been surprised.

Besides, I don't believe the Ter-Petrossian line on Turkey or Karabakh, and anyway, consider them issues which need to be resolved. For most residents, I daresay they don't think about them at all.

Anyway, it's no secret that I neither support the government parties or the opposition although I do feel sorry for supporters of the latter. Many of them have their hearts in the right place, I know.

I also believe that there are two very good blog posts that everyone should read. They concern Georgia, but I think they are very applicable in Armenia too:

Georgia has seen long-standing protests, now lasting for almost 5 weeks. Some opposition supporters have expressed surprise why so few people continue to come to the protests, with only a few thousand coming out onto the street for current protest events. "How is it", one supporter wondered, "that we talked to people in February and March and practically everyone was dissatisfied, but now we only have a handful actually out supporting us? Did we get it wrong?"

They got it right and wrong at the same time. [...] The key to the political contest is winning over those that are undecided, many of whom voted with the government in the last two elections. They are dissatisfied with certain aspects of the government, but also not committed to any current alternative.
Georgian Protests | Getting the Numbers RightObserving events from Georgia, I feel that there is a need and space for a Third Platform. This should be a group of political forces and individuals that are not AGAINST someone by FOR something, for reforms, for better healthcare, for reduced military budget, for negotiations with Abkhazs and Ossetians and with Russians, for reforms and more money in education, for integration with the European institutions etc. This group would come up with a positive, progressive platform and would engage with everyone- not just Georgian- Orthodox population. It should be based on respect and not on swearing, cynicism and aggression. It would try to change current discourse. There are people that share these values within Georgian opposition now, yet they have been completely silenced by radicals from both sides. They should be helped so that they sound as "sexy" and grassroots as do the radicals. They are the ones' that should reinforced. Because the two existing platforms of Saakashvili and anti-Saakashvili do not instill much hopes for a better, more democratic future. Third platform neededAll that said, despite my concerns with Ter-Petrossian's rhetoric, there's also no doubt he's resurrected what was an impotent opposition. He lacked the numbers he needed in this vote, but the dedication he does have from supporters is something no other politician in Armenia has.

Incidentally, yesterday I remarked to some journalist friends that a big question mark now hangs over the opposition's future. As you say, it really needs to own up to and address its shortcomings and work out a strategy that does represent a real alternative based on concepts and ideas.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that apathy is being read so accurately.

Most people are realistic enough to know that change doesn't come with elections. If people want to see change, they have to work with the people who have collected power.

Doesn't sound very romantic (or appetizing) but it is the way to create change in a society like Armenia.

Anonymous said...

In ex-soviet countries there is culture of obeying the power sovereign at that time..Second there is very weak opposition and the opposition is usually silenced by the sovereign power..
What lacks in armenian opposition specifically is ideology I suppose..Opposition can not promise a hope in people but rather blackmailed the current government which is not enough to come to power...
Third the current power in Russia is a more or less a dictator who governs the ccountry by hardlines..Armenia highly dependen t country to Russia role model is Russia..As you know Kocharian is awarded by being head of a private big Russian company by Russians as if he is an officer of Russia...
So the close ties with Russia will pull Armenia to one-party soverign oligarks playground..