The Referendum Cannot Be Considered Legitimate, Citizen Observer
The constitutional referendum held on December the 6th was conducted with very rude violations. Together with its violations, large extent of stuffing, abuse of administrative resources the referendum cannot be considered legitimate and fulfilled. Members of the ''Citizen- Observer'' and civil society representatives, who had carried out an observation mission on the referendum day at about 520 polling stations spoke on the violations observed.

During the press conference they presented the final report of the observation mission on constitutional referendum noting that the violations found don't allow considering the whole process and results as legitimate. “They have failed to correspond with any point of Venice Commission guidelines on good practice. From the late changing of the law on referendum, equal conditions, equal opportunities for advocacy as well as opportunities for appeal and effective implementations of observations,” said head of Transparency International Anti -corruption Center Sona Ayvazyan.

The report was made the by the members of the “Citizen-Observer” initiative and European platform of democratic elections. Ayvazyan said that the statistical analysis would have been completely different, “if no stuffing, violations and violence was carried out.” “About 20 percent less “yes,” and 20 percent more “no” would have been in Yerevan. Overall, in Armenia it would have been 30-40 percent “yes” and 53-70 percent “no,” said the speaker.

The analysis was based on the data published by CEC. ’’Thus, the CEC data was compared with the results of observers from polling stations. ‘’We have an image, that at those places where we had violations, we had also violated results,’’ said Sona Ayvazyan, adding that a number of suggestions were offered in the report.

Particularly they refer to the publication of the lists, the increase of the effectiveness of observation, commission preparation procedure, the exclusion of abuse of the administrative resources and the necessity for video recording at polling stations. “Video recording should be done in every polling station across Armenia, so that any citizen could control the electoral process,” added Sona Ayvazyan.

Tigran Yegoryan, representative of the “Europe in Law” NGO said, that during the referendum no case of recorded appeal and complaints was given full and effective investigation. “No comprehensive and objective investigation was carried out be it for an administrative or a crime case. In all cases, without content acknowledgement by all the possible and impossible means the complaints were rejected or abandoned,” said Yegoryan, bringing the following example: “During the Central Committee session, when one of the complaints said that no authorization has been submitted, we asked for time and submitted the authorization. In the rest 43 cases the mistake wasn’t corrected.”

The investigation carried out by the law enforcement bodies on complaints and recorded facts doesn’t inspire confidence as well, said Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly Vanadzor Office’s head Artur Sakunts.

As for the February the 5th according to the Prosecutor’s Office the alarms on violations make 67 initiated crime cases, 28 crime cases with 32 people engaged as accused, and 18 crime cases with indictment of 21 people was sent to court. 

 “The prosecutors say that the cases are processed. That is, they accept that there were violations. The authorities have no fact to refer that their actions prevented any violation. However, no voting was invalidated in any polling station. This is strange and it means that frauds are being concealed. This means, that organizers of the referendum, the authorities, initially had an aim to pass the new constitution by all possible means,” said Sakunts.

The speakers realize that the problem is on the civil level and only at this point we should try to create ‘’an oasis in the desert.’’

“But for sure the civil society has raised problems. Who will find the best solution to our problems? The stable civil society makes decisions on its own, according to its expediency. But for us it is more important to change the public way of thinking,’’ said Sakunts.

Lousineh Hakobyan, head of ‘’ Europe in Law’’ NGO, nonetheless, notices positive changes in the public mentality. “In 2013 (during presidential elections) our organization had 26 observers and we managed to cover only 14 polling stations in Ararat region. In May of the same year we had already 230 observers and during the last referendum, we carried out the biggest observation mission. The majority of our observers had a very good training and were able to present evidence on violations,’’ said Lousineh, adding, that thanks to facts recorded by the “ Citizen-Observer” formed “the international response on the results of the referendum.”

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor/Coordinator

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