Heffern Meets with US Citizen Who Reported Election Fraud

Narine Esmaeli

YEREVAN—US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern met with US citizen Narine Esmaeli, whose allegation of election fraud are now investigation by Armenian authorities.

A non-governmental international observer, Esmaeili was stationed in polling station 17-5 in the town of Artashat during the Armenian Presidential election. When she protested alleged election violations, she was physically assaulted and threatened by the polling station officials. Currently, Armenia’s chief investigation officer has opened a case against her.

Esmaeli’s current legal case was the focal point of the meeting with Heffern.

The ambassador pledged to continue to monitor her case very closely, as well as other post-election developments. Heffern indicated that the welfare of United States citizens abroad remains the highest priority for the United States government.

Heffern said the U.S. remains committed to continue working with the government of Armenia and the Armenian people to help strengthen democratic processes that will guarantee the freedom of all individuals to express their views and opinions, without fear of harassment or persecution.

Esmaeli reported that she had witnessed a group of 25 to 30 men walking into the polling station and surrounding the ballot box. The police officer guarding the station had ignored her request not to allow more than 15 people to enter the polling station as it was in violation of voting rules. When she tried to protest, one of the men from the group pushed her against the wall and held her up with her hand pressed against each other, while polling station official cut open the ballot box seal to allow one of the men from the group to pour a bag full of ballots into the box. The local police officers, who arrived at the scene later responding to her phone call, told Esmaeili to be to be a “good girl” and not talk to the media instead of registering and investigating the allegations.

Esmaeli opted instead to record a YouTube video detailing her eye-witness account.

The investigation into Esmaeli’s allegations began a week after the elections.

“Investigator Hovakimyan, who was sarcastic and aggressive from the second we met, consistently attempted to change my testimony and the order of events in order to place blame and suspicion on me. Instead of transcribing exactly what I recounted, the investigator used leading questions and dismissive responses such as ‘you know that never happened,’” Esmaeli told Amnesty International blogger Simon Maghakyan.

“To prevent the investigator’s distortion of my testimony, my attorney Tigran Yegoryan insisted that we tape the interview on March 1. After a 40-minute argument, the investigator left and returned with Andranik Mirzoyan, chief of the Special Investigative Service. The frightening chief snatched the recorder from my lawyer’s hand and aggressively threw it into the shelf in the interview room. By then, my lawyer and I were surrounded by half a dozen investigators,” added Esmaeli.

“We left physically intact, but I am scared to go back. That’s exactly what they want from me. That’s exactly why I won’t stop my fight for justice,” explained Esmaeli.

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17 Comments

  1. Tony said:

    It seems that corruption and fraud is in their blood. It comes from the top to the investigative service in the government.

  2. Rostom said:

    Narine,
    You’re the hope of our nation.
    We’re all endebted to you and people like you who are struggling for democracy in Armenia.
    Thank you so much

  3. Armanen said:

    Other than her word, does she have any proof that the police investigators acted harshly toward her? This all reeks of a convenient sob story to further discredit (indirectly) the Sargsyan administration.

  4. Alex Postallian said:

    If her case is legitimate,the Armenians have big problems,so how can they ask for aid,when the money is going in the wrong pockets.It sounds like a turkey ploy…………really a SHAME……………….

  5. Robert Davidian said:

    Here’s the message I just left on Narine’s facebook page: “OMG, Narine, you are so right! The Armenian authorities will try anything (except violence) to “get to you!” The fact that you’re so strong and KNOW this is just a game, scares the crap out of them. You have the best weapon of ALL on your side: THE TRUTH! Just keep waving the truth in their face (and, oh yeah, the Armenian laws on your side and the power of the US Embassy that you have backing you), and you will force the unevolved thugs to make this into a victory for you and the Armenian people. We are hugely proud of you! THANK YOU!”

  6. George said:

    There is NO country in the world that had any Election without Fraud, the important is how severe was the fraud and if that had tilted the final result to the opponent.

  7. anna said:

    if there is no video and I can see exactly what happened, I can not believe her words. No doubt of the voter fraud, but then again lots of anti-governmental campaign going on, so this could as well be exaggerated. Again…provide videotapes of it happening instead of just talking about it.

    • Suzan said:

      There are tapes of everything and not just at this station but around the country.Ever heard of civilnet? Also other observers witness what happened and made reportings as well so she is not alone. Her court case won by the way and the votes of that precinct with annulled so before you talk please at least read the news, you’re embarrassing yourself.

  8. Kevork Parseghian said:

    ays polor gegdsignere ge pasden ishkhanagan Serjig = shashig Sarkesyanneri goghmi bardutiune gettsse Raffi Hovhannisyani joghovrtagan parevi sharjume vor bidi garena santsel anpardavan ishkhanavorner.Sireli azkes hyots yes tser hed u gokhkinem minchev haghtanag .

  9. Ando said:

    Narine jan thank you for being so brave and not backing down. It is individuals like you that will bring change to Armenia and if everyone did what you are doing we wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. Please do not back down and continue to fight the corrupt system that is destroying our homeland.

  10. GB said:

    Dear Ambassador Heffern,

    I am sure most Armenians are fully aware of injustice and oligarchy corruption in Armenia, due to population extreme poverty level. Sometimes they have no other choice, but to follow a corrupted oligarch or an official, who can buy votes, for a few extra dollars, just like Obama’s young vote collectors, who were knocking people’s door in Chicago, for a free donut and coffee and vote chat….

    Dear Mr. Ambassador, if you really care about millions of US citizens demand, then you should utter the word of Genocide during next April 24, like your predecessor, honorable US Ambassador to Armenia, Mr. John Evans who condemned Turkey’s denialist policy, and closed border, where ordinary small Armenian business people can not have proper economy ties with the rest of Christian Europe, like you said before, Armenia’s roads will end up to nowhere, which is true, the oil pipe lines is very close to Armenia’s border!!

    I wonder why US government stop reinforce economic ties with Armenia and Artsakh, instead treat Armenia like a “cold war” rival, and give billions in aid to Turkey, where US Embassy blown up few months ago, as a heartful thanks to US government intention toward Muslim world , and yet, you have called, that American Embassy in Yerevan is not safe. I wonder how did you feel, where you have completed US style rock and roll flash dance ceremonial art work, with friendly Armenians in Yerevan, like you were in California, or New York!!

    Dear Mr. Ambassador it is time for Obama’s administration to listen millions of Americans, who have Armenian roots, who have sincere desire to see their unjust persecuted Armenia, as a free modern country, where people can have a free and happy life, like most ordinary freedom loving European countries!!

  11. MK said:

    This is Armenia for you today under reign of corrupt and fraudulent serzh and his RPA party thugs.

    Unless and until they are all thrown out by the people and put on trial for their criminal activities nothing can and will change in Armenia.

    The west and Russia want such a corrupt leader to stay in power as it suits all their designs and agendas in the region,namely concessions on Artsakh issue,the treacherous Turkish protocols to stay on the table as it suits the USA.

    Russia to have a monopoly on Armenia’s mines and other minerals,keep its military base there,in other words we have allowed ourselves to become the tools of these foreign powers and criminal serzh is their executioner.

    I haven’t even touched on the subject of the rampant corruption in all spheres of this regime,injustices on a daily basis,terror, where people loose their lives and properties,fraud in all elections to date,and the net result has been that people are leaving Armenia by the thousands, only in the last 5 years under corrupt serzh over 300000 people have voted with their feet and left Armenia.

    This is treachery at the highest level.

    Thank you Narine.

  12. Vahagn said:

    I wonder how a single person may know more about a public event than the gigantic services of the US, including sattelites, however it is never too late to learn and act accordingly, only then you may gain the respect of Armenians.

  13. bigmoustache said:

    this country really needs a revolution to cleanse our nation of these soviet mentality idiots. Sultan Serjoglu needs to GO and afterwards we need to have trials to convict those who stole from our people for so many years.
    this idiot is our biggest threat to national security.

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