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Referendum Observer Faces Charges for ‘Intimidating’ Voters and Election Commission Members

Special Investigation Service has brought charges against civic activist Vardges Gaspari for “obstructing the work of the election commission” during the December 6 constitutional amendments referendum. According to the indictment, Gaspari, who was stationed as an observer at the 9/15 and 9/16 polling stations in Yerevan, “exerted psychological pressure” on the members of the election commission, resulting in them being too intimidated to properly perform their duties. If he is found guilty, Gaspari faces a fine in the amount of 200 to 400 times the minimum salary, or an up to 1-month imprisonment.

Vardges Gaspari, the indictment says, “was registered as an observer at the 9/16 polling station, but he periodically went to the 9/15 precinct, which was located in the same building, and, having no right to exercise his powers of an observer here, obstructed the work of the commission. He unlawfully remained at this station for a long period of time and defiantly filmed commission members at very close range.”

Authorities also claim that the observer asked voters inappropriate questions, demanded that they present proof of identity: “As a result, a number of citizens were intimidated and refused to take part in the vote.”

Speaking to Epress.am, Gaspari said he found the indictment to be “absolute buffoonery.” He also insisted that, despite the assertion of the SIS, on referendum day he was listed as an observer at both the polling stations: “I'd sign out from one station and go the other one; thus I followed the process at both of them. If the logs haven't  been tampered with, they'll see that I had been registered.”