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Referendum Observer Taken Into Police Custody in Yerevan for Doing ‘Terrible Things’

Vardges Gaspari, an observer monitoring the voting process during the referendum on draft constitutional amendments on Sunday, was held in detention at Yerevan’s Kentron police division for three hours and released only around 8 pm, when polls had already closed. In the meantime, law enforcement authorities released a statement and a video, blaming Gaspari for “hindering the work of the voting precinct.”

Talking to Epress.am, the observer said he had been recording mass violations at the two polling stations where he was stationed – 9/15 and 9/16 – since early morning: “There were gatherings of unauthorized persons at the precincts; people were being brought in by cars… Three people, for example, came with reference lists, and when I tried to check their passport details, they ran away. Their main aim was to direct the voters.”

Gaspari added that violations were especially gross at 9/15 precinct, and all his attempts to report them to the head of the electoral commission of the said precinct were fruitless. On the contrary, the commission head, unable to reign in the observer and prevent him from protesting against the violations, complained about his actions to the chief of the community police.

“He’s doing terrible things,” the commission head is heard as saying in the video below, which was enough for law enforcement authorities to forcibly remove Gaspari from the polling station and take him into police custody with no explanation.