Armenia's law-enforcement authorities have started proceedings against Hakob Nazari-Dekhnavi, an observer stationed at the 4/01 polling station in Yerevan during the December 6 constitutional amendments referendum, for allegedly obstructing the work of the election commission. If convicted, the man could face up to 2 years in prison.
Nazari-Dekhnavi, for his part, denies the accusations, insisting, furthermore, that he was subjected to physical abuse by the head of the 4/01 election commission. Speaking to Epress.am, Davit Gyurjyan, a lawyer for Nazari-Dekhnavi, said that Armenia's Special Investigation Service had dismissed the man's report of abuse, having found the claim “unsubstantiated.” Meanwhile, the law-enforcement authority went ahead and initiated proceedings based on election commission head Armen Azoyan allegations that Nazari-Dekhnavi had created hindrance during the election process.
Journalist Romik Danial, another observer at the same polling station, had filmed the skirmish, but Azoyan, a representative of the ruling Republican party, had taken his camera away, erased the recording, and seized the memory card. This incident is being investigation in a separate criminal case as an obstruction of journalistic activities.
“Even if Hakob Nazari-Dekhnavi did actually hit the election commission head, it does not mean that the activities of the entire election commission were hampered. It could have equally been a hindrance or not,” Gyurjyan told our reporter after a November 1 hearing at a Yerevan district court.
The dispute with the head of the election commission started after Nazari-Dekhnavi approached Azoyan to report suspected election illegalities. In the ensuing argument, the observer received a slap in the face from the commission head.