Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 192

In a report on Armenia’s September 22 presidential election, the U.S.-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) concluded that "the electoral process broke down as the vote count started." The report, entitled "Flawed Election in Armenia," pointed to transparency violations, police interference, threats to candidates’ representatives, pre-signed and pre-stamped tally sheets, and vote-counting discrepancies. IFES noted that "the electoral law was compromised before, during, and after election day." It also called for "further investigation and international scrutiny," as well as a prompt review by Armenia’s authorities themselves, lest they "cast permanent doubt" on the election.

Amnesty International, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch – Helsinki, the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center, and a group of Russian democratic deputies — including prominent Armenia sympathizer Galina Starovoytova — have all issued open letters to reelected president Levon Ter-Petrosian, urging him to end arbitrary arrests and violence and to restore due process of law and political freedoms. Concurrently, a commission of the European Union has postponed a scheduled visit to Armenia for trade negotiations, while a delegation of the Council of Europe did visit in order to gather information about those arrested. The CE delegation also expressed concern about the government’s "step back from democracy" in its repression of the opposition following violent protests over electoral fraud on September 25.

The government is slowly moving to relax the repression. It has released some prominent political figures from arrest, and the president has rescinded his September 26 decree which banned rallies and demonstrations. (Noyan-Tapan, Interfax, Western agencies, October 11 through 14) However, opposition parties are far from free to operate, and unsubstantiated criminal indictments are pending against some opposition leaders. With local elections scheduled for November 11, the stage may be set for another controversial electoral exercise.

Shevardnadze Rebukes UN Envoy.