Yerevan Election Official Freed After Fraud Conviction

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The arrested chairman of a precinct election commission in Yerevan walked free on Monday despite being convicted of committing fraud during the May 31 municipal elections.

Onik Aleksanian was arrested on June 5 and charged with falsifying vote results in his polling station in the city’s Malatia-Sebastia district. Aleksanian pleaded guilty to the charge during his brief trial, leading the district court to sentence him to three years in prison.

Still, he was set free in the courtroom thanks to a general amnesty declared by the Armenian authorities. The latter have been under international pressure to free dozens of opposition members jailed after last year’s disputed presidential election.

Aleksanian was one of three persons detained following the equally controversial May 31 polls. Norik Yeghiazarian, a member of another Malatia-Sebastia commission, and another government loyalist received three-year jail sentences for vote rigging last week. They will also be released from prison under the opposition-driven amnesty.

Malatia-Sebastia was the main trouble spot of the Yerevan elections, official results of which gave a landslide victory to the ruling Republican Party of Armenia. Polling there was marred by reports of widespread voter intimidation, vote buying and other irregularities.

The Armenian opposition has dismissed these and other fraud-related criminal proceedings launched by law-enforcement authorities as a public relations stunt. It maintains that the elections were rigged all over Yerevan and must therefore be re-run.

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