Thursday, March 13, 2003

Have you ever been at the right place and the right time? What I mean is when your in need of something and your wondering how you will get what you need, that thing just falls in your lap? Well it seems for most of my life, this kind of thing happens all the time.

People sometimes think that I go looking for information or "trouble", but like what I said above, information comes looking for me and being a good listener, I�m always ready to hear the latest.

The other day, I was really bothered by the elections and all the fraudulent methods used by the candidates to get as many votes as possible. Though I had seen during the Artsakh election many of them, the following I had never imagined possible.

The other day I was in the presence of a guest from the Sisian region who happened to be an official at a poling station (one of the 1,800+ stations). This visit was over a meal.

Before I learned his position, I asked him what he thought of the elections, thinking this was a common person just trying to make a living.

He told me that the elections went well and what fraudulent methods was I talking about? He said this with a somewhat evil smile on his face.

He went on to tell me that for them, it was very important that Kocharian get re-elected, as he takes very good care of Artsakh, which is a big market for the products and harvest they produce in their region.

After a little bit of Vodka in his system, he volunteered a little more information of how they increased Kocharian�s votes.

He said for their polling stations, they went to the archives and got the names and passport numbers of 50 people who were dead and registered them with votes for Kocharian.

I asked him if he thought that was okay to do and he said that Kocharian is much better than Demichian.

I then tossed out my �why is it we were not given a real alternative to Kocharian� and my �Kocharian worked for over a year to make sure there would be no alternative to him�.

He didn�t argue and then I asked him if in the last 5 years has their been an increase or a decrease in the number of people leaving for Russia for work?

He said that the economic situation has gotten a little bit better in the last few year and with that, people have been able to save enough money to get a one-way ticket out of this place, thus, their has been a increase, especially among the young people. He said that in his village, more than half the young people have left for Russia.

Incidentally, when we had our elections last year here in Artsakh, there were many people who were not here, but votes were made in their names for Goulkasian.

So the opposition is crying foul and with everything I can see, they probably have a right to.

In my very rough estimate, I would say that Kocharian at least got 90,000 votes from dead people and would say it would be fair that at least 300,000 votes from people who are alive but have left the country for work or didn�t bother to go and vote.

It would not be that difficult a task to go to a couple of villages where there was suspected election fraud and do a physical count of how many people could vote, how many people did vote and also compare the registered voters to the list of dead people.

From what I�m hearing on the ground in Yerevan, things have not settled down and I�m just guessing that it�s going to get worse, before it gets better.

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