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Heritage Party Member Physically Attacked, Intimidated at Polling Station

Heritage Party Board Member, journalist Hrayr Manukyan was physically attacked at 5/1 polling station where he was stationed as an observer in the draft constitutional amendments referendum, Armen Martirosyan, Heritage deputy chairman, told reporters late on Sunday.

Manukyan, the deputy head said, had registered a number of infringements during the counting of votes cast in the referendum, and according to information available to him, the observer had been beat up by ruling Republican Party proxies. 

Hrayr Manukyan later recounted the details of the incident to the RFE/RL's Armenian service: “During the counting, the head of the electoral commission would put ballots on 'yes' and 'no' stacks without showing them to others. I demanded several times that they be announced, shown and then added to the stacks, but they went on doing it their way.”

The observer added that at one point he looked through the stacks to discover a large number of against votes had been added to the “yes” stack, and that's when he was attacked by several commission members, as well as 5 unknown young men. “They took away my phone and hit me, causing me nosebleed. There were nearly 15 law enforcement officers at the precinct, but they said there had to be an order from the commission head for them to do anything.”

After a while, Manukyan told, two young men tried to bribe him first with $200 and then AMD 50 thousand (about $100): “'You're our brother,' they said in a gangsta-like manner. I was isolated, and I realized they would never let me leave the premises if I didn't say 'Yes, I'm your brother, everything's fine.' I told them to do whatever they wanted, it was ok.

“So they took 200 'no' ballots, added them on the 'yes' stack and piled them in a bag, which I signed, but in a way that they be unable to open it. And when I file a recount appeal, there are going to be 'no' ballots  in the 'yes' bag. They might have tore [the bag] up after I left and whatnot, but if they did, then my signature has been damaged, which will also make [the fraud] obvious.

“I signed the protocol as well since there'd be a fine if I didn't. I did all this to convince them there was no problem, but after I got home, I filed a report with the police. I'll see to it that all the commission members and police officers at the precinct are jailed.”