Friday, June 10, 2005

Last week I was asked by a friend if I was willing to be a monitor of the elections scheduled for June 5th?

I met with the campaign team for Samvel Hovsepian, who was said by my friend as being the honest candidate for taghabed (community leader) for the Malatia-Sebastia community and they wanted to make sure he had a fair and transparent election. With such an election, he would win.

Unfortunately, we discovered that in order for me to officially monitor, I was to be registered 15 days before the election.

Well it seems that the elections were as everyone suspected fixed and the former taghabed was “re-elected” with 80% of the votes. Hovsepian immediately filed charges with the courts that the elections were fixed.

A few days following Hovsepian filing charges, the following story was published:



By Ruzanna Stepanian

A defeated local election candidate was brought to a police precinct in the small hours of Thursday for what police was later reluctant to explain.

Samvel Hovsepian, who ran for prefect in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia community in last Sunday’s vote, has been kept in a room where, according to him, he was given food and cigarettes, but no explanation as to why he was there.

RFE/RL’s last telephone conversation with Hovsepian revealed that by the end of the working day he was still locked.

Allegations have been made that Hovsepian may have been taken to police for suspected involvement in Tuesday’s incident in which a hand-grenade was hurled at the house of one of the closest associates of the winning candidate.

But talking to RFE/RL in the afternoon, Hovsepian strongly denied any involvement in the incident, adding that he himself would like to see those behind the attack found and held responsible.

“It is all tales. Everyone knows that I wouldn’t do it personally. If I needed to do that I could have got someone else do that,” he told RFE/RL. “Everyone knows that I am a good shot and do not miss. So let them not tell these stories. Half of the republic knows me. What is this matter about? I am a war veteran. Could I possibly have done such a stupid thing?”

Nune Gevorkian, the wife of Rafik Avakian, also known as “Cherni Raf”, on whose house the grenade was thrown, said in an RFE/RL talk that they had no enemies, as her husband, though involved in incumbent prefect Aghvan Grigorian’s reelection campaign, was not a politician.

But she did not rule out that the attack might have been linked with the latest elections in their community.

“It happened soon after the election day,” she explained.

Sergey Markosian, head of Aghvan Grigorian’s campaign headquarters, told RFE/RL that he could not say for sure whether the explosion near Avakian’s house was connected with the elections or not. But he also ruled out that any of Aghvan Grigorian’s supporters might have been behind the attack.

Almost all forces enjoying prestige in the community supported Aghvan Grigorian in last Sunday’s vote, including MP Hakob Hakobian, who described the elections held in Malatia-Sebastia as “undoubtedly free and fair.”

Police still does not reveal on what grounds Hovsepian is being kept in the police precinct.

Meanwhile, lawyer Vardan Zurnachian says that if Hovsepian was held by police as a witness then he should have been released until the end of the working day. But if he is a suspect, according to the lawyer, charges should have been brought against him or else he should have been let go.

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