Truth and Consequence?: Confession, then denial, leads to intrigue over vote claim

A bizarre turn of events this week in Yerevan renewed debate of voting fraud in elections that are much as three years past, and have aroused suspicion of political party intimidation.

On Monday, a polling official from past elections confessed to vote rigging in last November’s Constitutional Amendment referendum and in the 2003 presidential elections.

During a meeting with journalists, Spartak Yeghiazaryan says he and others were forced to falsify election returns, under threat that their children would be harmed if they didn’t.

But then, on Thursday, Yeghiazaryan recanted his confession in a comment to Haykakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times) newspaper. According to an article in the Friday (April 21) edition, Yeghiazaryan called the opposition newspaper saying that he had made up his claims in an effort to draw attention to fraud perpetrated by Gagik Gyozalyan, governor of Aragatsotn province.

Yeghiazaryan, from the village of Oshakan in Aragatsotn, initially said he came forward because his conscience got the best of him.

Yeghizaryan, 47, an out of work secondary school teacher, says he had appealed to different government bodies to make his confession, but was not granted an audience. He claims no political party affiliation.

Frustrated at not being heard, Yeghizaryan said he appealed to the National Unity party to arrange the unusual meeting with journalists.

“I have participated in the falsification of the results of the elections I mentioned, I have made the falsifications myself and I state the same fraud has been there in all the precincts of the Aragatsotn province. I am ready to bear the responsibility provided by the law and I think all those members of the electoral commission who have directly been involved in the election frauds should also be ready to that,” Yeghiazaryan said.

In his Monday “confession” Yeghiazaryan said the entire province – where there are 4,188 registered voters – falsified results, in favor of Kocharyan.

He claimed that he and other polling captains were coerced into reporting that Kocharyan had won the province, with 60 percent of the votes, when in fact he received only 12 percent and finished third behind Stepan Demirchyan and then Artashes Geghamyan. He said the same fraud took place in the Demirchyan-Kocharyan runoff.

Presidential Press Secretary Victor Soghomonyan told ArmeniaNow the office would not comment on the claims until law enforcement had investigated.

In is initial comments, Yeghiazaryan said he attempted to come out with his information a year after the presidential elections but, when he did, his son was kidnapped and held for a day in a locked car before escaping.

At Monday’s meeting Yeghiarzaryan said he was not afraid now of anyone and was no longer going to keep silent.

A press conference had been planned for Thursday, at which Yegiarzaryan was to name those who he said had forced him to lie about the election results.

The National Unity Party had planned to send videotapes of the news conference to embassies in Armenia and to various international agencies.

“Yeghiazaryan asked not to send the videotapes yet and to postpone the April 20th press conference as some problems have occurred,” Gagik Tadevosyan, representative of the National Unity Party told ArmeniaNow Wednesday. “We don’t know what has happened, we can just guess and it is not excluded he has been threatened after the statement.”

In a phone call with ArmeniaNow Thursday Yeghiazaryan was asked if he had been threatened.

“Please don’t be offended, I don’t want to speak any more,” he said. “Maybe I will make a statement in the future, but I can’t answer any question at the moment. There are some problems.”

Later that day Yeghiazaryan called Haykakan Zhamanak to say that the whole matter had been fabricated.