Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) denied on Friday an appeal filed by the opposition Yelk bloc seeking the disqualification of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) from Sunday’s Yerevan City Council election. The Yelk appeal came shortly after local Haykakan Zhamanak daily reporter Anna Zakharyan published a video showing Republican mayoral candidate, acting mayor Taron Margaryan’s campaign staff distributing pre-marked ballot papers and bribes among citizens.
Yelk had invited Zakharyan as a witness at the appeal hearing; her testimony, however, was not quite enough to convince CEC chairman Tigran Mukuchyan to grant the opposition bloc’s appeal. Mukuchyan stated that Republican Party’s representative at the hearing admitted that there had been ballot samples at the headquarters but not actual ballot papers. The CEC chairman then showed Zakharyan some of these samples to find out whether these were the papers she had seen being distributed.
“To tell the truth, I don’t think those were made out of tin foil paper,” the reporter replied.
Nonetheless, Mukuchyan made a decision in favor of the Republican Party, insisting that the video published by Zakharyan did not provide enough evidence to conclude that bribes and CEC-issued ballot papers had been distributed at the Margaryan campaign headquarters.