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US Envoy was in Hrazdan and Didn’t Notice Election Fraud (updated)

US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern personally followed the mayoral elections in Hrazdan on Sunday.

“A heated battle took place there. There were two strong candidates,” he said, speaking to journalists in Yerevan on Tuesday and mentioning that he personally visited the central Armenian city on election day.

“It was exciting to me to see strong political competition here, which I think is critical to the upcoming [parliamentary] elections as well,” he said.

Heffern described how he met with the two parties, members of the local electoral commission, and election observers.

“I was pleased to see that within the polling places it was orderly. Both sides confirmed that the election procedures were being followed in a transparent and orderly way,” said the US ambassador.

To a RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun) correspondent’s remark that the opposition insists that there was electoral fraud in Hrazdan, Ambassador Heffern said: “I’ve seen in the press and I heard some talk of some violations and I would just hope, that anybody who has information on any violations inside or outside the polling stations would take that information to the authorities and I would expect that the authorities would follow up on any of those reports.”

Recall, Republican Party of Armenia candidate, incumbent Aram Danielyan gathered 1,573 more votes than Armenian National Congress (opposition) candidate Sasun Mikaelyan and was re-elected as mayor of Hrazdan.

Updated 9:11 am on Feb. 15: “northern” changed to “central” to better reflect Hrazdan’s actual location in the country. Ambassador Heffern’s remarks also edited from the English translation of the Armenian story first published to his original remarks in English (as reported by RFE/RL’s Armenian service).