Yerevan Elections - 2023

Suren Grigoryan's response to "Eyewitness" and "Independent Observer."

Suren Grigoryan, the candidate of the Yerevan Council of Elders, Deputy Mayor Suren Grigoryan, responded to the publications of the "Eyewitness" and "Independent Observer" observation organizations.

- Mr. Grigoryan, yesterday, on August 23, the "Eyewitness" observation mission and the "Independent Observer" alliance made publications, claiming that the abuse of administrative resources was allowed by the "Civil Contract" party and Tigran Avinyan. Have you familiarized yourself with those publications?

- Yes, very detailed.

- How will you interpret those publications as a lawyer?

- In any case, a conscientious approach implies that I am a candidate for the Yerevan Council of Elders and a member of the Civil Contract Party, but yes, I am also a lawyer. It is tough to speak as a lawyer in this case because, no matter how logical it seems, in the discussed publications, we should meet essentially legal analysis; unfortunately, this is not the case. When you claim that someone misused an administrative resource, you declare that the latter violated the Electoral Code. In that case, you are supposed to mention at least the specific article, clause, or sub-clause by which the provision of the rule was violated. This is necessary for two reasons: firstly, so that the reader can assess for himself how valid your claims are, and secondly, so that the person you are accusing has a real opportunity to respond.

- Do you want to say that those squares have no such links?

- No, there aren't any, and that's not what I said. It's straightforward to check; you just read the publications and see many estimates and graphs but no reference to the allegedly violated rules.

- In that case, what trend do you see in those publications?

- Considering that the publications' authors are well-known public organizations in this field. I know several people working in them as decent people, and I don't want to think there is some hidden tendency. Still, on the other hand, for the same reason, I don't understand how it turned out that such a vulnerable article was published from a professional point of view. I have the impression that our colleagues examined our actions not from the point of view of the existing legislation but from the perspective of the legislation that they would like to see because it is evident, for example, that from the point of view of our current legislation, even with the greatest desire, you cannot abuse an administrative resource until before the pre-election campaign period begins, but colleagues do not talk about it.

- Are there other omissions in those publications?

- Many. I already mentioned the lack of legal references. Apart from that, I consider very problematic the idea that coverage of work activities is presented as an impermissible act. Finally, according to our legislation, propaganda is understood as the performance of an action that aims to persuade voters to vote for or not for a particular candidate or party, and there are no facts to claim that any action was taken by Mr. Avinyan or any other person for that purpose. Another problematic thought is that it is rightly stated that any government has a particular advantage due to having that status. Still, it needs to be mentioned that being an existing government also has its negative aspects from the point of view of pre-election campaigning because all the existing and unresolved problems are attributed to the current government rather than to the opposition. Unfortunately, all this gives reason to doubt the impartiality of the people preparing these materials. We will not have the occasion to have such doubts again.

- However, in one of the publications, there was also a reference to the pre-election propaganda of other parties, and it was said that this contributes to the distortion of the competitive field.

- And I'm afraid I again have to disagree. It doesn't matter to me whether the wrong legal assessment in this case also refers only to the Civil Contract Party or other forces. An incorrect evaluation remains an unfair assessment. Let me say more: Before starting the pre-election campaign, the municipality permitted various points to post advertisements containing political material. It did not matter to us that the person requesting the ad is tomorrow's political rival or other circumstances; we have seen that it is not prohibited by law, and permission was granted. Very simple.