YEREVAN—While the Republican Party of Armenia has claimed victory in Sunday’s city council elections, which saw Taron Markaryan reclaiming his seat as mayor of Armenia’s capital, the country’s human rights advocate announced that he will investigate the use of force against opposition candidate Zaruhi Postanjyan, who was dragged by police from a Republican Party of Armenia election office on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Postanjyan, who formed the opposition Yerkir Tsirani party and was a candidate for mayor, appealed to the Central Election Commission urging that the results of Sunday’s vote be declared invalid due to alleged large-scale voter fraud and bribery.
On Sunday, election day, Postanjyan and her 22-year-old daughter Lilit Drampyan entered a Republican Party of Armenia office in the Avan district of Yerevan—the home district for mayor Markaryan—with the intent to expose the alleged fraud.
What followed was a harrowing scene of Postanjyan being violently dragged by Armenian Police onto the street and being forced into a police car. At the same time, Drampyan was roughed up and wound up in the hospital having suffered a concussion.
On Monday, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender, or Ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan’s office issued a statement regarding the incident. The statement claims that Tatoyan has questioned the use of force against Postanjyan and has carefully examined the details of the incident that took place on Election Day and will act on his findings.
“In any situation the police must show a respectful attitude towards citizens, which, after all, is an important factor in the formation of trust towards the police. As for this particular situation, we immediately drafted a report and sent it to the police for an internal investigation to be launched as soon as possible,” read the statement.
Tatoyan added that his office has contacted the police regarding the incident and an investigation is underway.
Republican Party of Armenia spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov defended the use of force given what he said were his personal instructions to not allow entry to anyone, calling Postanjyan’s conduct “uncivilized, inappropriate and abnormal,” leading one to conclude that in the eyes of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia dragging a sitting member of parliament—a woman—on the sidewalk is the civilized, appropriate and normal behavior.
Postanjyan’s Yerki Tsirani Party won eight percent of the votes, guaranteeing it five seats in the 65-seat City Council—Council of Elders or Avakani in Armenian. The Republican Party claimed victory with 71 percent of the votes and the Yelk alliance of opposition figure Nigol Pashinian won 21 percent of the votes. The latter has opted not to challenge the results.
In its application to the CEC, Yerkir Tsirani claimed large-scale fraud implemented by the Republican Party of Armenia with the assistance of police officers that included vote buying, influencing of voters, as well as violence against Postanjian and her proxy, her daughter.
In a statement on Monday, Postanjyan claimed that violence was used against her and her daughter and decried the lack of response from law-enforcement bodies.