Yerevan, Armenia — After heated election campaign involving renowned political prisoner Nikol Pashinyan in “Kentron” district of Yerevan, by-elections yielded results that most observers and opponents call “stunning and ridiculous”. At the end of the ballot count in #10 district, Central Electoral Commission (CEC) announced the winner to be a kidney stone.
Earlier in November, as the election campaign kicked off, the public believed that the formerly oppositional party nominated the kidney stone as a joke reminding of the former glory of Geghamyan, however the results proved the opposite.
Opposition spokesman Aram Manukyan comments on the surprise: “I found no words to describe how ridiculous this is.. I mean – a kidney stone? You got’to to be kidding! How is it even physically possible for a kidney stone to be nominated? This was a good joke as it started, but we didn’t realize they would seriously nominate a stone.. Jesus Christ..”.
Justice Ministry Chief Expert Hrayr Tumanyan explained the legal grounds: “I understand that a kidney stone might sound ridiculous, but let’s not forget that Armenia is still a young democracy and things like this may happen in course of development of democratic process. In addition, the stone was registered in the country for due period of 10 years prior to elections and, unlike some other candidates, was neither in hiding in unknown places, nor has issues with law”.
Expert also explained that the stone is very rare as it was shaped in 25 years of Geghamyan’s political career which adds to its experience. “Also, if you look closely”, says Tumanyan “you’ll see that the stone kind of reminds the shape of a pink star and is really cute. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t make a good MP. Personally, I think it’s much smarter that many incumbent MPs and other government officials”.
The story got more media attention and turned into a political scandal as observers recorded multiple violations at polling stations. Artur Sakunts of Helsinki Assembly calls the elections “marred with significant violations”. Sakunts accused the Election Headquarters of the stone of failing the whole electoral process. “This was a joke of an election. The proxies of the stone along with local electoral commission pro-stone members and some biased observers falsified the outcome. Also.. how the hell is a freakin’ kidney stone possibly able to make decisions in parliament? We believe the very nomination was a result of political corruption”.
Observers and journalists in all polling stations noticed men in black bringing in sheep to vote albeit prostests from Pashinyan’s proxies and foreign observers. Since the turnout of actual voters was very low kidney’s enforcers needed very few sheep to change the outcome in favor of their candidate. Observer from “Still Think It’s Your Choice?” NGO was prohibited to take photos of the sheep voting: “We tried to protest but the thugs urged that these are people simply under effect of the New Year holidays and kept pushing them in.. We were able to take a few photos proving that those voters were actual sheep. The thugs made sure they made the right vote and escorted them out. There are rumors, the sheep owners were paid 5000 dram per vote. When will this thugocracy end?”
Chief Expert Tumanyan clarified that the opposition exaggerates the use of sheep. “You know how it happens. People drink a lot on New Year. Technically they are RA citizens.”
Earlier in the day international observers alarmed about Police officers acting very unusual. Gary O’Donnel, observer with OSCE/ODIHR: “We witnessed a group of Police officers in the polling stations, sitting in front of a laptop and listening to Charles Aznavour. At first it did not seem suspicious at all, but my interpreter who is better familiar with Armenian traditions and customs pointed out how obscure and abnormal was the behavior of the police. We can picture an Armenian policemen listening to Charles Aznavour, but using a laptop. We consider this to be a falsification at a very high level.”
However not all violations were done by kidney’s headquarters. Opposition was reported to violate Electoral Code as well. At polling station 10/36 Nikol Pashnyan’s proxy Dustrik Simonyan brought a poster of Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman and put it on the wall of the voting room. Observers insisted that the poster influenced the will of the voters and was in fact a campaign material, while campaign materials are strictly prohibited to be used on Election Day.
Authorities condemned dirty election technologies used by the opposition and suggested them to work more effectively in the future and find their own sheep.