A Story of Defiance: Activists Reject International Observers’ Assessment of Election

YEREVAN (A.W.)—On Feb. 19, around 10 minutes into a press conference where the international election observation mission was presenting its assessment of the Feb. 18 Armenian presidential elections, a young woman marched to the front of the room, slipped away from the grip of the security personnel, faced the media, and began reading from her clipboard—her small voice unfazed, floating above the voices in the crowd.

Lena Nazaryan reads her statement during the press conference.
Lena Nazaryan reads her statement during the press conference.

“Dear political tourists, we have had enough of your efforts to legitimize the fraudulent elections,” she read. “The recent presidential election in Armenia, when compared to previous presidential elections, has registered one step forward and three steps backwards, two steps to the right and half a step to the left. In other words, they haven’t corresponded to the Constitution of Armenia, to the requirements of the Election Code, and to international standards.”

By disrupting the press conference that would, in effect, rubber-stamp the results of the election, Lena Nazaryan wanted to remind her compatriots and the world that only the citizens of Armenia could grant legitimacy to those elected.

Nazaryan later told the Armenian Weekly that she knew she would not remain silent if the assessment presented by the international observers ultimately acquiesced to the authorities and to—what she considered—their brazen efforts to steal the election. “I had decided to interrupt the conference if I deemed it to contradict reality. And that’s what I did,” she said.

“I am certain that the elections were rigged,” she continued. “I was not asking the [international observers] to revise their assessment. I simply wanted to tell the citizens of Armenia that they are the ones who should assess the elections, and they are the ones who have to guard their votes. I’ve never been a Heritage Party supporter, but I am ready to protect the rights of all those citizens who cast their votes for Raffi Hovannisian.”

A day earlier, Nazaryan had been an observer at Precincts 17/2 and 17/3 in Ardashad, where she faced harassment throughout the day. She was called an “idiot” and told to “get lost” by a man, presumably a voter, appearing to be friends with the Republican Party proxy stationed there. Her efforts to document events on her video camera—something she says she is allowed to do as an observer—were met with resistance. Even the Republican Party proxy threatened her. The president of the precinct remained disinterested, refraining from admonishing the trouble-makers.

“Their aim was to drive me away from that precinct. Throughout the day, insults were hurled at me. The president of that precinct was on more than friendly terms with the Republican representatives; they whispered in corners throughout the day, and he did not miss a chance to verbally attack me. It was clear that I was interfering with their plans,” she said.

In the adjacent Precinct 17/2, where Nazaryan’s colleague was stationed as an observer, the situation seems to have been worse. “There was ballot stuffing, the observer’s video camera was stolen, he was constantly cursed and subjected to threats, and there was even an invitation to participate in a ‘carousel,’” said Nazaryan, who was one of the 48 “Europe in Law Association” observers and the approximately 6,250 registered local observers that day. A carousel is a form of election fraud whereby a pre-marked ballot is given to a voter who is asked to return with an unmarked one in order to get paid.

By the end of Election Day, over 350 instances of irregularities, ranging from threats to bribery and vote rigging, were reported on the online election monitoring site iDitord.org.

Nazaryan told the Weekly that she felt “hopeless” and “disappointed” upon returning to Yerevan. Then, she received a phone call from a friend who informed her that the international observers were preparing to give a statement—most likely, a wishy-washy, vague assessment. The friend told her that, along with a few others, they were preparing an alternative text. “Someone had to do it,” said Nazaryan. “So, I too went to Marriott and I waited until they were done presenting their argument. Their assessment did not correspond with reality. They said that Armenia had taken a step forward, when compared to the previous elections, and that it would soon become a democracy. They didn’t say how many kilometers were left to reach democracy. Everything was clear to me by then. I interrupted their event and said the following: ‘Dear political tourists, you are legitimizing the fraudulent elections. You are trampling upon the very same democratic principles that you yourselves have adopted.’”

“This was my personal response to the treacherous, foul-mouthed, thuggish, and criminal local representatives of the Republican Party at Precincts 17/2 and 17/3, and the presidents of the local precincts who sold their principles and did not remain accountable to local observers. They cursed and harassed the local observers, and assumed an angelic demeanor in the presence of the international ones,” she said.

And that is why she believes the conclusion reached by her and her peers represent the realities on the ground, and not the manicured version witnessed by the international observers during their short visits to the precincts.

Nazaryan is not alone. Many others have criticized the assessment presented by the international election observation mission comprised of representatives from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and the European Parliament (EP). Although the international observer mission did note “some key concerns,” it deemed the election overall “well-administered,” and “characterized by a respect for fundamental freedoms.” The personal accounts from observers, journalists, and citizens that have appeared on the news and social networking sites challenge that conclusion. One such account, the story of a Transparency International observer, Narine Esmaeili, who was pinned against the wall while ballot stuffing took place, went viral on social networking sites. The international observation mission did not allude to that incident in their statements, even though, according to Esmaeili, “this was probably the biggest cheating in all of Armenia,” involving 400 or so fraudulent votes.

Policy Forum Armenia published the results of its preliminary analysis on the elections: “Our results strongly indicate that the final outcome of [the] February 2013 election was subject to massive manipulations and interference and did not reflect the free will of the Armenian citizens. They also call into question the role of foreign election observers in the Armenian context, specifically their impartiality and ability to detect election fraud that is becoming ever more sophisticated.”

Nazaryan says the next order of business is to declare the official results of the Feb. 18 elections unlawful and to demand a new round of elections, where all civil society resources will serve to guarantee a free and fair election. “It is time for Armenia to have a legitimate president,” she told the Weekly, and added, “We do not recognize or accept any heroes or saviors. We believe in and accept you alone, citizen of the Republic of Armenia, because you are the bearer of authority.”


Below is a translation of the statement read by Nazaryan during the international observation mission press conference, as published on CivilNet.

Dear political tourists, we have had enough of your efforts to legitimize the fraudulent elections.

The recent presidential election in Armenia, when compared to previous presidential elections, has registered one step forward and three steps backwards, two steps to the right and a half step to the left. In a word, they haven’t corresponded to the RA Constitution, to the demands of the Election Code as well as international standards.

The elections have proceeded against the backdrop of proposed reforms to the Election Code by the parliamentary opposition that were rejected by the ruling majority. Even though international and domestic observers, rights defenders, and the opposition raised concerns, especially regarding glaring inaccuracies in the voter rolls, after the parliamentary election, nevertheless, the ruling authorities did nothing to fix the problem before this recent presidential election.

In essence, last year’s parliamentary election and yesterday’s presidential election took place on the same legal-normative basis.

Of note is the fact that in the Feb. 18 presidential election none of Armenia’s primary political opposition forces either nominated their own candidate or supported any of the nominated candidates. I refer to the Armenian National Congress, Prosperous Armenia, the ARF, and the Free Democrats. This is ample proof that the election was not truly competitive.

The fact that none of the primary opposition groups refused to nominate their own candidate or support any other candidate running points to the deep level of mistrust of citizens and political forces regarding the electoral process.

Thus, the opposition forces in the parliament, from the outset, have labeled the presidential election a farce and a show, since as previously noted, the ruling majority squashed the passage of election reforms proposed by the opposition prior to the election period.

Even though on the surface there was the appearance that important democratic freedoms were being safeguarded during the campaign, including the right to run a free campaign, in reality, the campaign was noteworthy by its competitive inequality in favor of the candidate of the regime. In particular, administrative resources and powers were put into the service of the latter. This was accomplished via pressure brought to bear on state and public employees to attend campaign events of Serge Sarkisian and to vote in his favor.

The election campaign did not proceed peacefully. Violence was inflicted on candidate Paruyr Hayrikian. The man was shot. Another candidate, Andreas Ghoukasyan, staged a hunger strike to protest the electoral process which he labeled a mere show. The press covered cases of violence even on Election Day.

The campaign also stood out by its lack of political and individual professionalism. Candidates employed the crudest of language and public relation stunts. For example, the various incidents that took place during the campaign conducted by the regime’s candidate were widely mocked by large segments of society. As a consequence, citizens tended not to take the election process seriously.

On Election Day, polling precincts were transformed into theatrical stages where citizens showed their attitude to the process. The press and social internet sites were full of ballots invalidated by voters who drew caricatures on them. They drew images of figures from the plant and animal world, images lifted from fairy tales, and television cartoon characters. In one precinct, a voter literally ate his ballot as a sign of protest. It is significant to note that according to official statistics, the number of invalidated ballots came in third place.

Reports of duplicate voting, ballot stuffing, bribes, substitute voting, and other scams were raised throughout the election itself.

Thus, yesterday’s presidential election in Armenia can be described as yet another normal appalling election.

Dear political tourists, we’ve had enough of you legitimizing the fraudulent election. You are trampling those democratic values that you yourselves have broken.

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in Political Science and English and her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts (Boston).
Nanore Barsoumian

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  1. Activists such as this brave girl will save Armenia in the political arena.
    Armenia now more than ever needs a Christopher Dorner, someone who will ruthlessly dispose of these corrupt “politicians”.
    The OSCE along with its masters obviously wants to see Armenia remain in its current, democratically bankrupt state. How could you state that the elections were fair when you site serious issues. You either have a free election or you don’t. You are either pregnant or you are not.
    It’s time for Armenia’s population to find all of the political thieves, get back the country’s money, dispose of them, get some closure, then move on. Once Armenia kicks out all Russian influenced forces, then it may have a chance for democracy.

    • Christopher Dorner murdered two innocent people, a young couple, who were deeply in love and who had done nothing to the psychopath: they were murdered because the woman’s father had legally represented Dorner at his LAPD dismissal hearing.

      Dorner also murdered a cop who was just sitting in his patrol car and didn’t know who Dorner was or that he was wanted for murder: a completely innocent man murdered because he was wearing a police uniform.

      And you are posting under ‘Hye’ ?
      Your are calling for ‘ruthless disposal’ of Armenian politicians ?
      You are no Hye: you need professional help.

      And remember tough guy: Dorner was cornered like a rat and burnt to a crisp. The coward, who snuck up on unsuspecting people and murdered them, was too chickens_____ to go out of the rathole he was hiding in and die in a fair gun battle. The scum shot himself in the head.
      He was promptly ruthlessly disposed of – like trash – by competent law enforcement personnel of California.

      And also remember tough guy: Armenian NSS (formerly Armenia SSR KGB) has very competent, experienced, dedicated Armenian patriots working for it.
      They know how to deal with traitors who advocate violent overthrow of duly elected Government of RoA.

    • You’re too cute Avery.

      I didn’t know you were a human rights defender.

      Man, you sure got me fair and square. The Armenian KGB sure is dedicated to their Russian forefathers. Yup, the same group that uncovered the 1999 parliamentary shootings, that also solved the 2008 (March 1) massacre of protesters (including the cop which drove over protesters). Darn these guys are good. I’m surprised they still haven’t uncovered who killed Hrant Dink. I shouldn’t underestimate the legitimacy of these “Armenians” anymore.

      Avery for president 2018!

    • Don’t hide under a fictitious name and advocate murdering Armenian politicians from the safety of your keyboard, son.

      Go to Armenia, attempt what you are advocating yourself, and then we’ll see how cute you will still be after you get arrested and sent to jail. For life.
      There is probably a bubba equivalent in Armenian jails.
      One of them would love to have a cute guy like you as his cellmate.

  2. The majority of Armenians chose their president and it’s Serge Sarkissyan. Stop poisoning our nation! Don’t humiliate yourselves by getting involved in such intrigues.

  3. When the international observers criticized elections, these same people hung on to every word. Can’t have it both ways.

    A more principled position would be that observers are not part of the democratic process, since they are not part of the polity.

    Truth and justice under the rule of law are conclusions based on public processes based on credible evidence, not public temper tantrums. That’s how it works in every court room and public hearing in the world. These conclusions may or may not be the “real truth” but they are the basis on which we govern our lives when we live under the rule of law. They are legal/public facts on which we as a practical matter rely so that we can function without being paralyzed in perpetual, existential doubt. For many, it was clear that Al Gore was elected president of the United States, but in the end, whatever the irregularities, he followed the established legal process and abided by the conclusion reached by that legal process. For most people in Armenia, it is clear that Serge Sargsyan was reelected president of Armenia. These were, to all objective observers who did not have a stake in the outcome of the elections, the cleanest, fairest and freest in Armenia’s short history. They were not perfect and we may not like the result. That’s trade off between rule of law and living by mobocracy.

    Now, in the name of the rule of law, a minority faction, much smaller than the 36% protest vote which Raffi or any other candidate would have gotten in any country in the world, is trying to substitute a mob action for the legal/public fact that most of Armenian society and the world has accepted. Is it a coup? A cabal? An oligarchic conspiracy with Raffi as its poster child? Surely Raffi knows better than to substitute mob action for legal processes. Or is he unable to control the forces behind and around him? Either would disqualify him to be president of a country, let alone a country in a precarious time and difficult part of the world.

    Which is why the vast majority of Armenia’s citizens are not out on the streets or supporting Raffi’s misguided crusade. Is he on an ego-trip or is he being taken for a ride?

    As a former lawyer, Raffi should know that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. If he has admissible evidence, let him prove he got more than 50% of the votes in a court of law, instead of whipping up a mob and having meetings behind closed doors. If he cannot prove it, then he is engaging in reckless behavior, undeserving of the public trust.

  4. Under Serzh there wont be anyone left in Armenia in 5 years or so, as people are voting with their feet against rampant corruption,fraudulent deals,injustices all over,chronic poverty,treacherous protocols,and the rest.

    If this is what you want than keep him there and good luck Armenia,by the way if anyone thinks that corrupt serzh got so many votes they need to have their brains tested,the votes of serzh were bumped up through ballot stuffing and ballot rigging.

    This brave activist is right in what she did and read.

  5. The ruling Republican party RPA is the root cause of all evil and corruption in Armenia these days,the den of all corrupt practises and illegal activity be it in political sphere or financial sphere.

    Sadly, Armenia can never go forward as things stand it will get worse through people leaving Armenia,if immigration continues at this rate our future is grim.

    We need to change this situation through the rule of law,justice in all spheres of life,end this evil corruption by all officials and than we can be on the right path towards prosperity,but not as it is.

    This brave girl was doing her public duty to our nation and public by pointing out the true facts on the ground.


  6. Ani,

    The Armenian people don’t know who won the election because of your party’s shameful behaviour during the elctions. Everything this brave girl said is correct. And people who rigged the election are a shame to the armenian people and a disservice to the president. May be he did won, but we will never know now because of these thugs. These people’s days are over. The only addition necessary to Lena’s statement is the names of the people who harrased the observers. Amot!

    • the Armenian people do know who won: RoA President Serzh Sargsyan.

      If you don’t believe CEC, that is fine.
      In the absence of supporting data, you can reasonably suspect official figures. I have no problem with that.
      But do you also suspect all 3rd party sampling results that statistically back the official numbers ? Again, find a single 3rd party unaffiliated organization that backs up your claims.
      Are all the 3rd party organizations who have absolutely no connection to one another or RoA Gov in on the supposed rigged elections ?
      Did Sargsyan manage to buy all of them ?

      And the ‘brave’ girl who disrupted the meeting is lucky she did it in Armenia.
      Armenian authorities are bending over backwards not to give any excuse to the delusional activists to blame it for any violence.
      In the US, the young uninvited woman who was disrupting the meeting would be politely asked to remove herself by security or police officers.
      She would be given a minute or two. After that, she would be arrested and forcibly removed. If she resisted, she would be Tased or pepper sprayed and charged with disrupting the peace, resisting arrest and assault on police officers.

  7. Please, those who speak of Armenian Government , look at US Gov. and then speak. I think US succeded in brainwashing diaspora Armenians. You always speak about Oct. 27 , remember that 4 US prrsidents were assasinated and another 6 survived assasination attemps. And this just in a short period of US history.

    • Ani, the difference being that October 27, 1999 shooting in the Parliament was not the work of the Armenian government per se. Some sinister dark forces, mostly outside forces, were behind the crime.

  8. The European Platform for Democratic Elections Statement on
    Presidential elections

    14:18 23/02/2013
    Story from Lragir.am News:

    The elections were characterised by a lack of political competition,
    low-key campaigning and a relatively low presence of partisan election
    observers in precincts on election-day. This has to be explained with
    the decision of the three main opposition parties not to nominate
    their candidates for the Presidential elections and consequently not
    to deploy their proxies to the election precincts.

    Election day was characterised by a committed election administration,
    which aimed at ensuring a calm voting process. However, during
    election day civic election observers reported on ballot stuffing,
    multiple voting and intimidation of voters through proxies of one of
    the candidates, which raises concern on the fairness of the electoral
    process. Some of those election precincts where civic election
    observers monitored the voting process showed a significant lower
    voter turnout (up to 25%) than neighbouring election precincts – often
    in the same building -where no observers were present. The precincts
    with inflated voter turnout showed higher voting results for the
    incumbent Serge Sargsyan than for his competitor Raffi Hovhannisyan.
    These observations give ground to suppose that both the voter turnout
    and voting results have been subject to manipulation on election day.

    The new election code provides in general an adequate framework for
    the conduct of transparent and democratic election and includes wide
    competences for the conduct of civic election observation. Civic
    election observation in Armenia deserves special attention by Armenian
    and international institutions. Legal provisions for civic election
    observation should be further improved and methodological support be
    reinforced in order to further develop civic control over electoral
    processes in the country and to increase public trust in national and
    international democratic institutions.

    Full report

  9. Ani, we are not discussing US government here. This is a childish and helpless attempt to change the topic. we’re talking about the fact that the Armenian government system is corrupt throughout. The people on the ground, small party leaders, voting supervisors, and bigger fish – governors, ministers and so on are corrupt. These are people who support the president and he is their cover. If they gave a chance for a legal clean election, maybe, maybe, we would have known who really wone the election. The votes for Raffii and Serzh are so close that we don’t know the answer.

  10. We had enough of fraudulent elections,3 presidents to date all crooks,the last one being very slippery,a liar,corrupt,and a friend of his crooked Oligarchs.

    The reason why the West and the Russians back corrupt Serzh is because they can each push their agenda on Armenia through corrupt Serzh,if Serzh does not toe the line stipulated by his foreign masters a lot of leaks will start to appear into the public domain all to do with his illegal activities,fraudulent elections, to his casino habits and loss,and the rest, as foreign governments namely US has a large dirty dossier on him just for this purpose.

    It suits the west not to have democratically elected presidents as they can push their dirty agenda much easier.
    The foreign so called observers have fulfilled their goal,this is the name of the game.

    Lena Nazaryan has pointed this out to everyone.A brave girl we need more like her.

  11. What a country this Armenia !

    Hundreds if not thousands of men are supporting the ruling party in committing electoral fraud. Unscrupulously they back a government that does absolutely nothing in order to stop endless immigration of more than 100 000 Armenians
    Everybody, even these uneducated cheaters can sum up when the last Hay is leaving his homeland. In 1915 the Turks had to kill all Armenians in Turkey to get
    rid of them.
    Compared with this Erdogan and Alijev are in a much better position: They just have to wait. With the help of the Armenian government and OSCE Polittourists
    they will be succeeding in less than 20 years.
    Congratulation to a country where the only MAN is a young lady who has the courage to tell the OSCE-Tourists that they are unneeded and unwanted !
    They could have done their job at home in Europe by watching the Armenian Presidental election in their national TV.

  12. MIHRAN

    I guess its wrong to only accuse the gvernment of corruption and bribery. We ALL have to accuse ourselves ! EVERYBODY who PAYS the amount that he is
    asked to pay, is a little bit guilty of the situation in the country. A lot could be changed if we, in the situation where we are asked to pay, reject this. I know this is difficult and not everybody can do it in every situation.
    But the more often we ALL reject the payment, the quicker the situation will change.

  13. Pleeaaase, Let’s not compare ourselves with America. The US has been a huge industrial country made up of various nationalities of the world. Armenia on the other hand is a tiny country today, newly formed after the fall of the Communist regime. Armenia is made up solely of Armenians who belong to the same culture and heritage, I would think or deduce that being of the same lineage, a community and a state would be much more sympathetic towards one another, but not act irrationally, much less unpatriotically. Armenia at all costs must lean towards total Democracy.

  14. Until corruption has been eradicated and the rule of law is firmly established in Armenia no amount of spin of words can persuade investors to invest in Armenia as there is no confidence or trust either by the Armenian public at large or foreign investors in this corrupt system.There has been many American Armenians who invested their hard earned millions in Armenia,not only they were fiddled by officials some also lost their lives with it,this is what your corrupt Armenia can do.

    Immigration of the Armenian people will continue until we all make an effort to clean our house from these thugs and crooks.

    Armenia will only be on the right track when the ruling power peacefully transfers power to the opposition,that’s when Armenia can be judged as mature and moving forward and the rest of the problems can be sorted out in time,until than Armenia will sadly go downstream towards more and more people immigrating out to different shores.

    This poor girl was trying to change things in her own way.I salute her.


    You are absolutely right. So I dislike what Avery has written. I found it very good and in this case also very democratic to let Lena Nazaryan carry out her short and justified statement.
    Avery what you are asking Security or Police to do, would have been exactly how
    dictatorial regimes liked to act in such a situation, just like Nazis and Communists
    In Democracy silence is not requested – to have a point of view and to represent it are marks of Democracy.

    So many thanks to Police and Security : You proved a male behaviour in this situation ! Pepper Spray and Tasing to a young lady !!!

    • WR,

      It is not about Nazis or Communists. If this girl did this in today’s Germany or any other Western country she would have been arrested. Although I felt somewhat sympathetic towards her, what she did I find very distasteful. Invading into the room where people have gathered to have their scheduled meeting and forcing everyone to listen to what you have to read from your “little book” is uncivilized behavior to say the least. If you want a country with rule of law Ms. Nazaryan please follow the rules in your daily life.

    • “If you want a country with rule of law Ms. Nazaryan please follow the rules in your daily life.”

      That’s not working. There is a time and place to protest when things are bad and they’re not improving. Her not following the rules is a drop in a large pool where oligarch and others are ignoring the rules for their own self benefit at the expense of others. This woman did not do it for her own selfish benefit.

      Corruption is hurting Armenia and Serj is not doing anything about it.

  16. Hovanissian was simply trapped by his defeat.
    One have to accept defeat and congratulate and encourage the winner, which in this case is none other than his compatriot.
    It is surprising that as a born-American Hovanissian has not assimilated that, yet it is part of American philosophy!
    You guys are supporting from Little Armenia, a former candidate whose interests are anything but pro-Russian, but the reality is otherwise. Be wise and do not play with fire, I would say. Change does not necessarily imply a change in strategic partner. Loyalty is not a defect, but a rare quality.

    PS: btw The Kremlin is physically closer to Armenia than the White House, we’re not talking about Glendale, which makes you feel closer to the White House.

    • I am surprised how little some people know about new modern warfare…opining that point X is further than poin Y…
      And still hoping that uncle Dzadya will give us a hand in case of conflict…same uncle *Gorbachov9 that knowleddgeable that the Axeris were massacring Armenians in Sumgait and Baki/.//could WITH 24 HOURS HAVE HIS TROOPS IN THOSE TOWNS…AND YET DELAYED IT FOR A WHOLE….WEEK!!!!
      ADN THENA GAIN WHEN ARMENIA OWED A PALTRY 120 MILLION DOLALRS to them, instead of in apprecialtion of over 200,000 Armenians soldiers martyred in the HAIRENAGAN war…at the very least clsoed that debt. came and took over the plants.COULD AS A SMALL GESTURE BESTOW THOSE EX SOVIET FACTORIES to the living veterans and /or heirs of those martyred in their name as shareholders…
      Some more???proof that they don´t care about such things …is the recenmt very improved bIZ ties 7 billions dollars a year. ….
      Armenia???? oh boy, when are we going to learn that we should not depend on any promises or place oiur hopes on others to help us……
      if this that world entity is extending loans, these are to be paid back and also some Kickin´ back is one of the condition , I suppose…like all modern day BIG deals…
      So …dont´giv e us lessons of our NEAR ENIGHBPOUR FAR AWAY NEIGHBOUT o.k.????
      At the end of WWI, the only country that really helped us and that in FOOD /FLOUR …….was good old Uncle Sam and also again after earthquake!!!
      this I ´m not sayin as to compare but facts are facts!!!!

  17. She is indeed a brave girl, and people like that will save Armenia. For those who say how she would be treated in the U.S., the only reason she was not arrested and then brutally tortured in a detention cell was because it all happened before the eyes of international monitors. If she did it away from prying eyes, the Armenian police would show its ugliest face.

    What she did is called civil disobedience, and this is how the U.S. and the other established democracies became what they are, going all the way back to the Boston tea party, to the civil rights movement in 1960’s and beyond. When you see injustice, sometimes you got to break the law, hopefully peacefully.

    The reason the Armenian government has to “bend over backwards not to give excuses to the international community” is because it has lost all credibility and the trust of its own people. Ironically,because it has denied democracy to its people, the government sometimes cannot even enforce order for fear of retaliation. This is why you need democracy in Armenia, for stability and security. If people feel that they own the government and the laws, there will be no need not to enforce the laws.

    And Pat, being LIKE the U.S. does not mean being WITH the U.S. Being democratic does not mean leaving Russia. In fact, in a democratic Armenia, people will never turn away from Russia because they will know it’s not in their best interests. What democracy will do is make Armenia a stronger ally of Russia.

    I congratulate those Armenians who are brave like this girl. They should keep up their struggle to take Armenia back.

    • Why is it so important to be as Americans or Europeans … and if we continue on this path, a day will come when some of us will want to be Like Turkey !?
      Why not just be like an Armenian and be satisfied with it! and thinking so that others envy us in the future, for the reason that we are Armenians and not Armenians especially influenced by any country. If you think this is pure utopia, then there is no need to պայքարել for Armenia and its values rooted in each of us.

    • Absolutely!! Civil disobedience goes way back in the U.S. during the Mexican war, written by Henry David Thoreau, that’s how states and countries start acting better for the sake of the people.

      Democracy does not mean to be on the side of any country that does not bear the interest of your own country. It simply means to have the interest of the people at heart!!!

    • Pat, please explain what you mean by “Why not just be like an Armenian”. What does being Armenian mean here? I hope you don’t mean that the current situation in Armenia is somehow Armenian and acceptable. People want to leave Armenia, how is that Armenian?

      What the Americas and Europeans have developed over the years and put greater and greater value over are universal ideas that countries around the globe have been adopting. Freedom of speech and having to choose your leaders without interference and corruption.

      Where do you live?

  18. Indeed more of these girls are needed amongst us.I never like those OSCE MINSK people….so far they ahve not achieved anything.I was present at an important Clonf. in yerevan at the Congress Hotel*invited,where thse people were there.None was impressive in their discourses.They let the Gerogian take up most of the time near exhausting themselves attaacking the Russians ,who had helped the Abkhazians ,and Ossetians throw the attacking*real attack by military forces…
    They were there to be like this nice girl says as political tourists and still are.Fact is why should they convince Armenia , or its fM to go to Paris and meet axerbaijani FM*just lately,when their country welcomed back axe murderer and made heroe of him.At the very least Axeri FM should have been made to extend regret to Armenian counterpart.Did they?
    of course not. Going back to the issue by all of you guys,most of you ..well I also let in avery,he sometimes looses temper and opines a bit differently.
    My suggestion to present situation in RA after elections is:-
    A Concilliatory gov.t should be put in place admitting in its format quite a few from opposition and candidates such as RAFII.Paruyr Bagratyan and a few others given important positions…untill Parliament is also dismissed and new Real elections take place and those whoa re there for their monies and or connections asked out!!!!
    I like all armenians even those oligarks-provided they give in-enough is enough of the Monopolistic FREE MARKETING!!!!let others also ahve their go and prosper(and don´t come back and tell me go ahead)insincerely—
    I know that MONOPOLIES DO EXIST IN RA……should be rooted out!!!!
    Chance given to our very dear farmers to cultivate our farmlands…not enough the symbolic seeds giving here there…God´s sake!!!

  19. WR: {“Avery what you are asking Security or Police to do,…”}
    Random Armenian: {“ You really wanted to see that activist physically hurt didn’t you Avery?”}

    You two seem to have difficulty understanding what I wrote in clear English.
    Show me where I said what you think I am supposed to have said or wanted to see her physically hurt.

    Let me repeat: all of you who are applauding her actions and at the same time advocating for US style (or European) democracy, US style lawℴ in the US, young woman or not, she would have been asked to leave. Then she would be arrested. If she went quietly, she would be booked on a whole bunch of charges, released on bail, and then she would go to court and let the judge decide her fate. Or she could ask for a jury trial. If she resisted, cops – female and male – would swarm her, hogtie her and remove her screaming.

    I have seen it hundreds of times in my years in US.
    Here are two samples:

    University of Florida student Tasered at Kerry forum

    Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK Arrested In Condi Rice Hearing

    There are thousands like that: you can look it up.
    Armenian cops are angels compared to what cops in US can and will do to you if you step out line.
    Look up how Armenian cops acted with the sit-ins and tenters at Mashtots park vs. what cops in US did to Occupy Wall Street protesters.
    And No, I don’t want Armenian cops to become like what cops have become in US.

    Ms. Nazaryan had no civil or legal right to invade a civil meeting and violate the rights of all those others present.
    Her right to protest does not give her the right to violate the rights of all those present in an enclosed space.
    Your rights end where my rights begin.
    Yes it was a public meeting and she had the absolute right to be present.
    But she and her group could have stood to the side with signs. (panel might have given them the mike.)
    She could have waited in line to ask questions from the panel like everybody else.

    • Avery,

      You went through some hypothetical scenarios where in the end she would end up tasered. And you don’t know if she would have resisted. That spoke loud and clear how angry you are at her.

    • Random:

      you are unable to refute the facts I presented, so are resorting to hallucinatory conjecture about my state of mind.

      facts are she was allowed to completely disrupt and interrupt a meeting in Armenia. She was allowed to violate the rights of all those present.
      Speaks volumes of tolerance and civility shown by Armenian authorities at the expense of law & order.

      I presented two pieces of video evidence from US that showed two persons being arrested, one violently so, for doing much, much less than the young lady in Armenia. The fact that you are ignoring the evidence from US and keep harping about problems in Armenia clearly shows your bias.

  20. SELLA

    First you are wrong , if you think Lena Nazaryan would have been arrested : Not in Germany, not in Central Europe. Vice versa – I am convinced that Lena in Europa would be saluted as a second Jeanne Darc !
    Second, what does mean “distasteful” and “uncivilized behaviour” ? Is this important in a situation in which Armenia is ? Is electoral fraud tasteful, is oligarchy civilized ? Even if you are young – you should care for the important devellopments in the Republic and less for peoples behaviour .

  21. Lena Nazaryan was doing her civic duty in reporting and pointing out all the fraud by this criminal thugs.

    Well Done Lena you are a hero,we need more like you.

  22. Under corrupt serzh Armenia will sadly be depopulated within no time,this is exactly what our enemies want,so keeping serzh is the best option for them,and the observers have fulfilled their dirty task.

    Lena was pointing this out,she did a service to our country,I am proud of you.

  23. Considering what is at stake in Armenia from all angles,I come to the conclusion that CHANGE IS OVERDUE.However you turn it,this is what the majority demand.
    I am in Yerevan and parts of RA every year.Notwithstanding the supeerficial “make overs” as is said here in US, the country is , at the very least advancing in Home Security*most important factor, with those beautifull neighbpours we have and then some little by hand outs and Armenia Fund like much smaller fundlings. Indeed, not what Armenia should hav e accomplished within those 21 yrs after re independence. A pity. My advocacy has been BETTER RELATIONS BETWEEN RA AND DIASPORA.Which can only be on right path/course if Diaspora’s delegates insitu are there.I “suggested”‘several times over that from oiur main 5 Community areas>/N.^ s. Americas, EU,RF and the Middle East these 5 persons be assigned to go and be in *if not within Diaspora Ministry…**adjacent to it in the Foreign Ministry.
    B. Give citizenship to our Young in Diaspora*passports -after complete check.half Armenians as well,at a cost of some 75 to a 100 dolalrs.But our non exisitng as yet National Trust Fund to fund theri stay at Armenian families there*even the Armenia Fund cann support that for a month and a half.C.These young people to undergo Military cadet training ,aside the usual Cultural Spiritual and language courses!!!VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE.
    D. Now is the time to create in Diaspora a much needed X dept. that will comb through all those who amongst us try to plant discord.Even those who like parrots repeat armenians do not like to unite!!! we must tell these we are MIA-PAN cooperative,what else..even the French have not been able to unite their political parthy members with different ideologies to be UNITED! but they become one fist when any pepople dare to hiurt France!!! they are thus left to choose elect their ideology and carry on but F R A N C E is above any other thing.Other nations as well small or large in Europe follow this,however not on the Frenmch scale.
    Going back to realities in Yereva,RA,if the crowds are beginning to build up around RAFFi and now Rafi and ARF-who knows tomorrow what other faction,it is because the majority are tired if not totally dissatisfied with nature of things in Yerevan.Today on Kentron T.V.*also yesterday they shpoul;d the street of the Tanners*Gashvegorceri-where Cholera may break out!!!!! such dirty streets full of Garbage of all kinds and then what we see in Central yerevans afew parks are New Benches etc.,
    D/Time to have a GARBAGE COLLECTING SYSTEM.Spend some of the 30/40 million Euros that come in from World Bank,. EU every month in acquring special Garbage collecting vehicles.I have for the past many yrs suggested to begin with eliminating those very thin shopping bags replacing them with a STRICT ORDER TO Mfg of these to make thicker ones.then educate the housewives to tie them up properly and place them in BIG BINS **these to be ordered right away in yerevan plastic companies Large ones so as the street poor thieves cannot pci them up by and hand carry them away….these untillthe mayorshi[p decides to order trukcs,above said.These are small stuff but more important believe you me than just bragging about this that.And to realize not too difficult……
    Good luck to pweacefull demos and hope ISHKHANUTYUN*hate the word..GOVT. Garavarutyun much bettera word WILL ATTEND TO THESE FEW PLEAS….ASAP.Spring in Yerevan begins March lst…so git a move on!!!!

  24. Yes Ms. Nazaryan would have been removed in a severe manner by the police in the U.S. if she protested during such a meeting; but where the European eyes were not present, Ms. Nazaryan was treated in a very disgraceful manner outside. The only reason Armenia’s police did not act severely towards her then, because the camera was on, the European Court was present and the world could see it. The police felt intimidated because of it and she was able to carry on her mission. Why was Armenia’s police intimidated? Because they already carry on in their illegal acts throughout the years as well as rigging the ballots.

    At this time, we should all worry more about the state of affairs in Armenia, rather than knit-picking towards Ms. Nazaryan, who was up to her neck with the state of affairs in Armenia; the illegal wrigging the ballots, the unjustified murders within the country, the law and order that is lacking within the country, the few elite that parade all over the capital, while everyone else is dirt poor, and the list goes on and on.

    Armenians all over the world wish to send monies, invest in Armenia, but are afraid that the unlawful oligarchs and the elite will pocket their monies before it is reached to the right people that was intended. The people are struggline and are fed up with the unlawfulness in the system, the selfish and the arragont elite and the oligarchs. We should be more concerned and feel for the well-being of the people; their individual rights must be taken very seriously. The right to live in a country that respects the law and order, the right to live without fear, the right to have freedom of speech and the right to vote freely to the candidate of their own choosing.

  25. Yes Ms. Nazaryan would have been severely removed from the scene if it was in the US at such a distinguished meeting, but whereas the eyes of the world was not upon her, outside, she was treated very badly. The Armenian police left her alone in there, because they did not wish to look in-front of the world acting severely as they also felt intimidated.

    At this time, we should be concerned about the state of affairs in Armenia, that the law and order is lacking. That the people are fed-up with the oligarchal illegal regime. The people wish to have law and order in the country, not deceipt, corruption, unlawful murders, being afraid to speak up, and the list goes on and on. Armenians all over the world wish to send monies to Armenia, but are afraid as it never reaches to the intended parties. We should be more concerned that people (someone said it in here) that 100,000 per year are leaving the country. People are speaking up that they want freedom of speech, better law and order in the country, and the right to choose their own candidates for president, without having the ballots being wrigged. The people of Armenia are crying for Democracy to reign in the country.

  26. We congratulate Lena Nazaryan & others whom are bringing up the rigged elections in Armenia. We hope this will be a wake up call and the time has come for Armenian’s in Armenia to sign petitions to the government on the fraudulent elections. The people must take action otherwise the corruption within the government will continue.

  27. I do not quite agree with the content of what Lena Nazarian had to say in her astonishing show. I think International observers are needed in the elections of countries like Armenian who are as yet on the road of practicing democracy. Even though, their assessments may not always fully correspond to the facts on ther gound, I find their presence does more good than otherwise.
    But, I would happily condone Lena’s novel, smart action as one by a young female concerned citizen of Armenia.

  28. To those who keep saying that voting problems and corruption can be found in all countries are missing the point. It’s the level of corruption and whether the laws are enforced. It’s about the courts and authorities putting effort into reducing corruption. Serj could have done better in his first 5 years.

    • and those that keep talking about the level of alleged corruption in RoA are missing the point as well.

      US had orders of magnitude more political corruption in its formative years.
      Massive lawlessness. A 230+ year old country. Still has. Would you like me to give examples, or you being an American can look it up yourself ?
      As late as 1960, when President John F. Kennedy was first elected, there were allegations of massive fraud and vote buying by the losing side, Republicans. There were even allegations that mobster Sam Giancana and his Chicago crime syndicate played a role in Kennedy’s victory in Illinois.
      And there were no outside monitors then or now.
      Was it or was it not judicial corruption for the US Supreme Court to illegally inject itself into the local elections of the Sovereign State of Florida ?
      Did their illegal action cause Gore to lose the election for US Presidency: Yes or No ?

      All those that keep harping about this or that in Armenia are comparing her with Western democracies that have been in existence as sovereign states for centuries. For a 20 year old country with all she has faced since her independence, Armenia is doing just fine, thank you very much.

      Problems ? sure: lots of ‘em There were far more serious problems 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago: most were solved or are being solved. Most other problems will also be solved.

      Rome was not built in a day either.

    • Even if we compare modern Armenia to the U.S. 100 or 200 years ago (which we should not), Armenia is still behind in terms of democratic institutions. The system was set right from the start, with proper checks and balances, and with a constitution that has changed relatively little to this day. With all the examples of electoral corruption mentioned above, the system had mechanisms and checks-and-balances to ensure that problems were corrected. Problems always occur, what differs is how a country approaches them. In the U.S., there were courts, lawsuits, investigations, due process available to remedy the mistakes. In Kennedy’s case, there were investigations and convictions. In 2000, the whole point of the case going to the Supreme Court was that there were judicial mechanisms available to both parties to address the problems. Simply because we disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision does not mean it was illegal. The existence of these democratic mechanisms, including independent courts, gives people hope and faith in the system, so that if they disagree with the result this time, they know that they have a chance next time.

      In Armenia, the people have no reliable democratic mechanisms to solve the electoral problems, and that’s why they have to turn either to the streets or to emmigration. The courts are not independent, investigations are either non-existent or sham, the television is in Serzh’s pockets, and the opposing press gets bullied. The people simply see no way to change their government. The same elite has been in power since 1998. That’s why they do not have the same faith in the system that citizens in Western democracies have.

      Now, comparing modern Armenia to 1800’s U.S. is improper, because Armenia is not competing with the 1800’s U.S. Armenia is competing with modern Azerbaijan, that’s why time is critical. They got oil, the only thing we got against them is our human resources, and lack of democracy is wasting those resources. The people in Armenia are not going to wait for the 200 or 100 years for Armenia to become the kind of country that they want, and they don’t need to. We don’t have to reinvent the bicycle, we can learn from the developed democracies without going through 200 years of trouble. The Armenian people know it, and they are not going to sit and wait till the oligarchs take their sweet time (if at all). They will either try to establish democracy now, or if they can’t, they will keep going to those democracies where they want to live. And that is deadly for Armenia.

  29. [quote=random Armenian] Pat, please explain what you mean by “Why not just be like an Armenian”. What does being Armenian mean here? I hope you don’t mean that the current situation in Armenia is somehow Armenian and acceptable. People want to leave Armenia, how is that Armenian?

    What the Americas and Europeans have developed over the years and put greater and greater value over are universal ideas that countries around the globe have been adopting. Freedom of speech and having to choose your leaders without interference and corruption.

    Where do you live?

    Random Armenian,
    I live on earth and you?

    PS: All is not rosy even in America, Yevroba or Asia.
    Nobody prevents you from living in Armenia. You can go and live there whenever you want, unless you don’t want to give up the joys of being a U.S. citizen and all its benefits. [The same is for hye-EU citizens…]

    • No, all is not rosy, but if you paid attention, people in the US raise their voices about the problems, and it achieves results. Look at the transformations the US went through when people became actively involved in the welfare of their country.

      You’re completely missing the forest from the trees. Your argument about just accepting the way things are, is a cop-out. If you just accept things as they are, they will only get worse!

      If you want a prosperous and stable country, you want a court and police that has low levels of corruption, and when that ugly beast rears it’s head, something is done about it.

      People in Armenia are sick of the corruption. You’re essentially defending the oligarchs and the corruption in Armenia. Which frankly boggles the mind.

  30. Pat,

    When you live here and experience on a daily basis the fraud,corruption by all officials,see the poverty of the people up and down our country,the injustices,see how our country is being emptied on a monthly basis, than you will also believe in what I am saying.

    I respect your views however I don’t contribute to it as I am talking through feeling on my skin.

    Wish you good luck in your endeavours in the US.

  31. “Well Done Lena you are a hero,we need more like you”, “This poor girl was trying to change things in her own way.I salute her”, “This brave girl was doing her public duty to our nation and public by pointing out the true facts on the ground. Bravo.”, “I salute this brave activist Lena Nazaryan,well done”,
    Now I understand why our ancestors were butchered like sheep by the Turks, why we did not have “brave heroes and heroines” who would have saved us from the genocide. The answer lies in International News Cameras. Back then we did not have those weapons and well trained “keyboard commandos” to save us from the Turks. Today we should feel safe, our arsenal includes: the Internet, Face Book, Tweeter, and all electronic and social media. Our new generation has become, “politically correct, progressives, selective environmentalist, spotlight addicts and most importantly leaders in exposing “social injustices”. They are armed with foreign NGO funds and dedicating their lives for social change on front lines, I mean in front of the cameras.
    Dear Keyboard Commandoes, you are insult to our soldiers, heroes and heroines that sacrificed their lives and still serving on the front lines. I don’t see you with your cameras going to front line listening to the stories of young men and women who are away from home, I don’t see you covering stories of heroines and heroes that fought Artsakh war and need our moral support. No, that is not sexy, NGOs will not hire you for that, you will not be able to build followers on YouTube and polish your egos by checking how many hits your video is getting.
    Certainly, Lena Nazaryan has very impressive resume, I wish our soldiers had the training that she has (by foreign NGOs) before they went to war.

    • Well said Daron.

      This so called ‘brave’ young woman is being hailed as some kind of ‘heroine’ for disrupting and interrupting a civil press conference in a very safe room.
      She suffered no adverse consequences for her illegal actions whatsoever. She is a ‘hero’ ? For what, for being a brat ?

      Meanwhile the real heroes who defend the rights of all these ‘heroes’ to live as Armenians in their own homeland are barely remembered by the 37 percenter sore losers.
      Just a few day ago, on Feb 19th, while sore loser Hovanissian was running around claiming his 37% was actually a greater number than 58% using some new delusional math, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Defense Army conscript, Private Gor Ghazaryan, 20 years old was killed by Azeri sniper protecting his fellow Armenians on the desolate frontlines, far, far away from the limelight and cameras. .

      Yep, a young woman is a ‘hero’ for disrupting a meeting.
      How many of the sore losers actually said anything about a real HERO, a young man who will never have the opportunity to see another sunrise or another sunset, or have the opportunity to disrupt a meeting a become a fake ‘hero’.

      Daron is right: no wonder we were slaughtered like sheep by Turks.
      Turks glorify their military, while we glorify our spoiled brats.

      [Killed Armenian soldier had returned from Russia to offer his military duty]

  32. Mihran once again, fraud is everywhere, corruption is everywhere poverty is everywhere, injustice may be found everywhere too even in the top 5 of the most advanced countries…what else?

    Anyway wherever you live, wherever I live….thanks Mihran

    The most important thing that we should always remember is : “El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido!”

    • Pat,

      Should nothing be done about corruption? That’s how your arguments are coming across.

  33. Avery and Daron
    Your comparisons are not in place. The fact that a soldier is killed by hostile fire at the frontline does not mean that the concerned citizens who are engaged in voting should refrain from protesting. In the case of Ms. Nazarian, as I said before, I don’t agree with what she had to say about the international observers, but it is also not a crime to make use of such an opportunity to make your voice heared.
    And about “the sore loser”, I think he rightfully earned a victory, even as the second place winner. He conducted a uniqe election campaighn and brought new insights in the electoral tradition in Armenia. I am sure you would also acknowledge that In the electoral circumstances of Armenia it is no joke to achieve 37% as an oppositionist. Raffi’s was a victory in fact. The only question that worries me now is if he can use his strengthened position wisely and far-sightedly.

  34. Arshag,
    You have pinpointed the MAIN ISSUE.That Raffi has broken the ice,as they say..
    I do also hope that no ,not only Raffi,But one of our important traditional political pàrties comes forth -alongside Raffi-also others such a s PAP and perhjaps another repented one…namely Orinats yerkir and thus push FWD,some real changes.
    Armenia sorely needs that.I just posted here on another thread-now replaced by others- that Armenia ,like Georgia next door needs some CHANGE,
    They elected a Billioniare, Ivanishvilli,as Premier next to Sahakashivill, that had become near another…Shevardnadze…
    Time for MODERATE sort of rule in place in RA too.No Revolutions…I CALL IT E V O L U T I O N
    sorry have to cut it short and go..

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