PFA: Armenian Authorities Put New Face on Election Fraud

Earlier this year, under mounting pressure by the international community and civil society, the government of the Republic of Armenia took measures to reduce fraud and manipulation going into the 2012 parliamentary election. However, according to a special report released this week by Policy Forum Armenia (PFA), a U.S.-based international think tank and advocacy organization, true election reform in Armenia has, once again, been hijacked, only this time by even more inventive and well-concealed methods of falsification.

The report, “The Armenian Parliamentary Election of 2012,” provides an in-depth analysis of the political-economic and legislative developments leading up to the 2012 election. It also summarizes the reactions of key stakeholders—the opposition parties, foreign observers, and local civil society groups—to the election outcome.

What particularly sets the report apart from other analyses, however, is the range of statistical tests, conducted by professional analysts that support stakeholder reactions. These tests not only yielded ample evidence of persistent and strategic election fraud, but also pinpointed the beneficiary of such corrupt practices, namely the ruling party.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Adam Hug, the policy director at the London-based Foreign Policy Centre, said, “This important and detailed report shows that Armenia still has a long way to go to before its elections can be called free and fair. In particular, the results of the statistical analyses would seem to indicate that the election authorities successfully managed to adapt to the changes in laws and outside pressures (via illegal use of identities of Armenian citizens who have emigrated and violations in vote counting), which is deeply concerning. Armenia will have to improve its election processes if future results are to command the confidence of the international community and most importantly the Armenian public.”

PFA senior fellow, Armine Ishkanian of the London School of Economics, went on to say, “The growing sophistication of fraud techniques and mechanisms, which are artfully concealed, make it difficult for outside observers to cite and document specific instances. It is electoral fraud 2.0. The authors of this report have had to bring to bear all the tools of research and analysis available to shed light on these techniques and provide stakeholders with statistical back-up that election fraud is alive and well in Armenia. The question is, what are the prospects for the forthcoming presidential elections early next year?”

Edgar Martirosyan, a PFA executive board member and a Los Angeles-based attorney, pointed out that achieving free and fair elections is not an end in itself. “Better elections are likely to result in better governance and stronger social cohesion,” he asserted. “And it is an internationally accepted conclusion that good governance is the primary driver of economic development and progress in developing countries like Armenia.”

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  1. {“Policy Forum Armenia (PFA), a U.S.-based international think tank and advocacy organization,”}

    Q: where does a US Based think-tank receive its funding from ?

    {“according to a special report….true election reform in Armenia has, once again, been hijacked, only this time by even more inventive and well-concealed methods of falsification.”}

    Right: according to a US-based, Western funded organization that either wittingly or unwittingly is doing the bidding for foreign interests who want to weaken RoA and create chaos. This hit piece from a supposed think tank is timed to create doubt in the legitimacy of the upcoming RoA Presidential election, and attempt to create social chaos, so that something worse then the manufactured bloodshed of March 1, 2008 can be repeated.

    Maybe PFA can write a report about the perfectly democratic elections in Azerbaijan ?
    Maybe PFA can write a report about the shining example of Western-level democracy in Georgia under the Enlightened Western educated Saakashvili ?
    Yeah, the same Saakashvili administration under which Georgian prisoners were routinely beaten and sexually assaulted with rubber batons for years.

    Pretty much all unbiased observers stated after the May 2012 Parliamentary elections that despite problems, it was the most democratic and transparent vote ever held in Armenia (including OSCE).
    Here is the opening paragraph:
    [The final report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on Armenia’s parliamentary elections, held on 6 May 2012, concludes that they were characterized by a competitive and largely peaceful campaign, and offers recommendations, including ways to improve the integrity of the election process.
    The report notes that the new Electoral Code provides a generally solid framework for the conduct of democratic elections, but contains a number of substantive shortcomings that remain to be addressed.]

    It is really sad that ARF and its media outlets cannot get over the fact that since RoA-ARF is unable to garner more than 5%-6% in any election in RoA, the conclusion has to be that there must be ‘fraud’.
    It is really sad that ARF, the most patriotic of the 3 traditional Armenian parties, gives an uncritical platform to Anti-RoA Neocon NGOs and supposed think-tanks, such the Policy Forum of Armenia: “a US-based think thank and advocacy organizations”.

    And any average statistician can manipulate the same set of numbers to prove something or the exact opposite: it is done all the time.
    Lying with statistics has been elevated to an art from in the USA.

    And yeah, I looked up the PFA executive board and academic board: highly educated ladies and gentlemen.
    Except not a single one of those fine ladies and gentlemen had anything to do with the creation of Independent RoA or the Liberation of NKR.
    I have more respect for an 18 year old RoA or NKR Armenian man with only a high school education who is guarding RoA and NKR borders from AxeriTatarTurk invaders in freezing snow, than a bunch of US based educated suits sitting in comfortable conference rooms in the safe West and bloviating about this or that cosmetic defect in RoA.

    • PLEEEASE, Avery (or whatever your real name is), spare us your paranoid conspiracy theories, aversion to anything western and, weirdly, your aversion to SUITS!. Even the example you quoted mentioned the well known fact of election fraud. It exists, HAS TO be talked about and HAS TO be corrected! And, it will be.

  2. PLEEESE, Robert (or whatever your real name is).

    Avery is my real name.

    And I am sure you and your suited friends were in Artsakh 1991-1994 fighting Axeri invaders with your video cameras and PDF reports, right ?

    And you must have a bit of a problem with English: ‘shortcomings’ is not a synonym for ‘fraud’ . Look it up.

    Or did your Anti-RoA biased eyes miss the ‘competitive and largely peaceful campaign’ part.

    Take your camera to the NKR LOC and see if you can stop at least one Axeri invader. Then come back and lecture me about paranoia.

  3. I am sorry Mr. Davidian, but Avery is a known commentator on these pages and he is a hayrenaser person, consistently.
    However the so called Policy FORUM (repeat FORUM) is not really a forum, but a clique that pretends to be a “forum”.
    First of all, I question their qualification to do better than the official OSCE team that went through the elections with a fine tooth comb.
    Second, I draw the readers attention to the PFA’s record (see how they forecast that by Dec 2008 the price of gold would tumble down)
    I also refer the reader to an exchange I have had with him after he wanted to get some more publicity for himself and for his clique following the article on Mr. Raffi Hovhannisian see:
    Please Mr. Davidian, let people who really care about our nation, like Mr. Avery voice their opinion. The Armenian Weekly has tolerated the PFA clique for too long.

    • thanks for the support Armen.
      I will study the links and exchanges you provided: for future reference.

      and don’t worry: it is not up to ‘Robert’ to allow me or you to voice our opinions: it is entirely up to AW management and AW moderators.

  4. How ironic that Avery lambasts the PFA for being a cover for pro-Western intervention in Armenia, and thus not to be trusted, and then points to the statement of the OSCE, undoubtedly a Western institution with a very defined strategic agenda, regarding the 2012 parliamentary elections as proof that the ballot was the freest and fairest in Armenia since independence. You can’t have it both ways….

    • not ironic at all.

      OSCE is a Western creation, but it has 57 member states from all over the world.
      There is a lot of internal competition from various interests.
      The head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan is Ambassador Andrey Sorokin. He was born in Russia. He was a diplomat in USSR. He is a Russian Federation diplomat. I doubt very much he is a Western agent.

      There were CIS observers, OSCE/ODIHR observers, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly observers, and NGO observers.

      Apparently only PFA has been able to see that supposedly {“… true election reform in Armenia has, once again, been hijacked, only this time by even more inventive and well-concealed methods of falsification.”}

      And the fact that even a Western organization – as you call it – rates the elections as ‘largely competitive’ proves my point: if even a Western organization that (hypothetically) might have an agenda to create chaos in Armenia is unable to find anything substantially wrong with the Parliamentary elections in RoA, indicates it was – in fact, largely competitive.

      Also indicates PFA’s report is manufactured nonsense.

  5. Avery, look at what the most decorated Gharabagh war veteran alive, Jirayr Sefilian, had to say about PFA (and I quote): “Policy Forum Armenia-ն այն եզակի և օրինակելի հայկական կազմակերպություններից է, որի գործունեությունը իրապես միտված է Հայրենիքի և Հայության ռազմավարական օրակարգի հիմնական պրոբլեմների լուծմանը: Կազմակերպության մեջ միավորված են արտերկրում բնակվող հայ մասնագետներ, որոնք սրտացավությամբ են վերաբերում հայրենի պետության և ժողովրդի կյանքին ու ապագային: Նմանօրինակ սրտացավ և բարձր որակավորում ունեցող հայազգի կադրերն են դառնալու Հայաստանում նոր որակի պետության ձևավորման ու դրա թռիչքային զարգացման ապահովման մասնագիտական ռեսուրսի` Համազգային «Ոսկե հիմնադրամի» միջուկը: Հայաստանում ազգային պետության ձևավորման համար պայքարող մարդկանց անունից շնորհակալություն եմ հայտնում Policy Forum Armenia կազմակերպությանը և նրա նվիրյալ ու բարձրակարգ մասնագետներին:” (The original is on Mr. Sefilian’s Facebook page at:

  6. I and many others are sick and tired of clueless idiotic so called hayrenaser patriots who do not have a damn clue of the realities on the ground and those who cannot get their heads of the regime’s backside. You talk of NGOs being sponsored by western/US funding, does it cross your minds that there are NGOs which are supported by not only Diaspora Armenians but also those based in Armenia? Have you forgotten about international organizations which give millions in funding to Armenian today for development projects which the Armenian government happily accepts in order to feed their own pockets, indirectly funding Serge’s fraudulent campaigns? Avery, it seems that you are also clueless that behind of many NGOs today are veterans who have fought in Artsakh war, veterans who have been led down by the corrupt governments of the past 20 years, mothers of veterans and soldiers who have been murdered in the Armenian army in non-combat times (yet the MOD has done nothing about it). But I doubt you will understand this, because you probably respect the so called veterans of Artsakh war such as Serge and Koch who have robed this country of everything. Armen, your last comments and personal attacks on the founder of PFA, show me that you are a very primitive individual, the type that dominates Armenian politics and Diaspora today, the type responsible for the country’s degradation. Instead of your primitive shallow comments, please provide an intellectual criticism based on facts and research. Avery and Armen, carry on singing your patriotic songs and keep waiving the flag, but I’d love to see what you will be singing in 20 years when there is no one left in the country. WAKE UP!!! SMELL THE DAMN COFFEE!!

  7. Avery, Armen you do not have to be a PFA supporter to appreciate and respect the fact that the last elections were fraudulent. Please read the mass (independent) media e.g.: Political analyst Andreas Ghukasyan, who nominated his candidancy for president in the upcoming elections of 2013, said that the elections are free and fair only if the candidate of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) will not take part in them.

    “The society knows that in the last elections the Republican Party handed out election bribes. Giving and receiving bribes from the legal point of view – this is definitely a criminal offense.

    Therefore, in my opinion, the Republican Party has no moral, legal and political rights of participation in the elections with its candidate. I feel the need to submit a claim to the CEC cancel the registered candidate from the Republican Party”, in an interview with the candidate said.

    The latter will present his claim to the CEC after the registration of presidential candidates, probably on January 15. To the question, whom he considers a competitor in the upcoming election, Ghukasyan said, “First, we need to reach that the candidate of the Republican Party will not participate in the elections. Only after this task it would have any significance on the outcome of elections, and it will make sense to talk about competition among the other candidates. “

  8. There is a thing called cleaning your own house, nobody can do a better job than us. PFA’s report aims at exactly that.

    Armenian statehood has been turned into a large scale business enterprise where the shareholders are a handful of criminal oligarchs. Elections are just one business activity, a necessary expense for the oligarchs in order to reinstate themselves. Dear diaspora Armenians, open your eyes and you will find a very disturbing reality in Armenia. OSCE and other observers can only do so much. When a local thug goes door to door and hands out election bribes none of the observers see that. When village people are intimidated by the local chief again observers don’t take a notice of that. It goes according to the plan. The oligarchic authorities have for years perfected the ways of election fraud in order to make it appear clean in the eyes of foreign observers who are only there for a short period and can’t see what goes on behind the surface.
    PFA’s report relies on statistics to show significant discrepancies. Numbers don’t lie no matter how you look at it. The zeal with which some are trying to defend Armenian corrupt authorities is misguided and is false patriotism. If you really care about Armenia then defend the people who are deprived of the opportunity of a fair vote.

  9. First, AW provides a platform for comments and as long as the commentators do not cross the line, their comments should and must be heard. With the same reasoning, AW is absolutely correct in printing press releases by PFA or any other organization for that matter, as long as those press releases oblige to the rules of ethics. So it is troubling and hypocritical when I read Avery and Armen calling on AW to curtail PFA’s right of expression, but allow them to say what they want, even at the expense of crossing the line which is AW’s domain to determine.
    Second, answering Avery’s question about PFA’s funding – FYI, in case you did not know, it is entirely from its members pockets. Would you care to contribute, Avery? If not, then refrain from putting PFA under the the wrong light or throwing mud at it by asking nonsensical questions which have a not so well hidden accusatory and libelous nature. If you know of any wrongdoing, then say it outright with facts, instead of acting in KGB/CIA fashion of creating distrust where there is nothing to go by.
    Third, just because the word Forum is in the name of PFA does not mean that every Tom, Dick and Harry, whose intention is to spit in the soup so no one else can enjoy it, has the right to an answer to their questions or comments whose only intention is to smear PFA. PFA is not a public forum the way Armen wants to portray it and then accuse it for not acting as such. PFA is a think tank where its members are the participants of its “forum”. So if Armen wants to participate in PFA’s forum then he must do as all other members of PFA have done – send a membership request letter with a resume showing academic credentials, wait for the PFA’s boards approval, send in his membership dues and ONLY then participate in PFA’s “forum”. You are welcome to do so, but don’t be disappointed if you are not accepted.
    Fourth, Avery I assume you fought for Artsakh liberation and that is why you reserve the right to make comments and criticize, but find that PFA does not meet that criteria to even act as a think tank and publish its findings. Very interesting set of rules you have devised.

    Garo Yegnukian, Esq.
    Board Member
    Policy Forum Armenia (PFA)

  10. Interesting article s well as ensueing discussion/debate w/ref to ELECTION FRAUD(s).Nothing new really and quite UNIVERSAL,please be impartial.
    My modest viewpoint ,since I began to be an activist in Eiurope ,asof 1978/9,has been and will be that this SYSTEM is Universally Outdated.I have a God given right to say what I wish ,I take it.Am writing slowly AW,-note little typographical erros if any- My dozens of years developed re developed Theses,in brief is:-
    Thje world needs ¨A New Concept of Electoral Law & Governance¨,also title of a ¨paper¨ of mine,published only oncce.Hereunder,some introductory glances into it.
    Firstly it has come to us from centuries old Greek Laws,then old English Law and undergoing the French and American revolutions handed down to us as is.-
    A. The privileged are mainly TWO Sectors,the political parties-that set forth their candidates to Parliaments/Congresses,indeed campaigning -also w/funds-then the individuals(especially in capitalistic countries)relying on their personal or Group Funds,the wealthy, in other words,however incompetent their candidate might be. THIS IS THE REAL FACE OF ELECTIONS TODAY THAT OPENLY REVEALS ELECTIONS BEING FALSE AND BASED ON FRAUDS. n o t based ON M E R I T S of the Elected!!!!!(keyword here is merits,please note).
    B. Whereas over the years as mentioned I developed the following(but please note before I expand further on my Concepts of electorla Law)I would like to point out that I realize I am a drop in the ocean and CANNOT FIGHT THE CURRENTS,meaning the almighty above two Sectors.I ¨suggest¨to commence my theory (especially beginning from our own House,viz. our Diaspora) ALONGSIDE, and in parallel to- What dear Harut Sassounian pretty much like above described- as set forth a couple of times.That of each Armenian community have a Representative(delegate) elected by 20,000 (again above like votes),which I do not mind at all.knowing that the man on the street, or the young above 18 are those included in said 20,000.In short,my proposed electoral Law based on M E R I T S as against the age old,side by side.No conflicts hopefully.
    B. Enter my System. From each Armenian -dense tpownship,let´s say constituency delegates are elected from the 15 most important fields of professions(in which the great majority of the world ,mind you, not only Armenian population are active ).From each PCA´s Prof. Collegagues ASsoc. 3 delegates are presented, One endowed with,being most advanced in the GROUP ,professional,say ,the best surgeon (example) ,One ,most adavanced Economically(he/shje knew what to do with earned salary or income) adn ONE, that has advanced -while practicing same profession-, in nat´l , int´l culture, a politicized person and endowed with networking capacity.
    Note, one complements the other two. Each of thsese in a revolving mode hbeing head of the delegation to the Central ÇCouncil of each Community country,where he/she sits annuallyu with.-
    C-. From our traditional political parties -likewise 3 of theirs, and one each from our Spiritual denomiantions.This , my fellow compatriots is according my bible REAL PARTICIPATION AND REPRESENTATION FROM OUR most important sectors of Society.
    What is more -meanwhile thse good people will get a CHANCE TO MINGLE MORE , BE SOCIALLY FORMED FURTHER AND help advance our Cause…
    Otherwise , if we shall indeed go on doing what we are doing and I promise,as soon as I win de 300 million dollars lottery SHALL BEGIN MY OWN CAMPAIGNINGS…AND I DO PROMISE I SHALL GIVE EACH OF YOU VERY INTERESTING ¨¨POSTS¨¨ IN THE GOVERNANCE…
    Pick your choice now which is so called Democratic and which money based and /or ideolpgically (really becoming outdated) this latter…
    Coomeeets are welcome and if you wish to learn about my other suggestions as to ,8an example) A new Repatriation, soon one only one Armenian English Armenian publication will publishe it…and a few other issues that really are inmportant for us Armenians!!!

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