Although Armenia’s presidential election is largely seen as “generally democratic” by most observers, there have been some cases of serious violations and human rights abuses by now president-elect Serzh Sargsyan’s regime. Although Sargsyan’s main competetor (the former president Levon Ter Petrosyan) hasn’t been any better – if not worse – in treating his political rivals in the past, it is disturbing that serious human rights violations have happened during Tuesday’s election.

The ‘worst’ documented account, as told by Human Rights Watch, is the following:

Abovian, about 20 kilometers from Yerevan  
Larissa Tadevosian, a proxy for Ter-Petrosian, has told Human Rights Watch that she went to polling station 28/7 in Abovian at approximately 7:30 a.m. Three large, athletic men approached her, and two of them dragged her out of the polling station. Tadevosian struggled to free herself, but was dragged across the yard and shoved into a car. The three men drove Tadevosian to a deserted area outside the town. After taking her out of the car, one man beat her on the head and face. “They told me that I should be silent and not say anything more about the elections,” she told Human Rights Watch. “They threatened to rape me. They threatened to harm my family.” The men then left Tadevosian in the deserted area and drove away.  
Tadevosian was unable to return to the polling station because of her condition. She went directly to the police, who ordered a forensic medical examination. Two days after the attack, she complained of headaches, dizziness, and other medical problems.  
Gurgen Eghizarian, a proxy for Ter-Petrosian and a former deputy head of the National Security Service, received information that election observers at polling station 28/6 in Abovian had been kidnapped and beaten. He has stated that he went to the polling station together with Erjan Abgarian, a 68-year-old Ter-Petrosian proxy and former head of the customs service. Election commission representatives and observers there denied that they had seen anything happen to the observers, but Eghizarian demanded that the senior election commission representative sign a statement about what had happened. While at the polling station, a group of seven or eight men armed with pistols attacked Eghizarian, his son, and Abgarian, beating them on the kidneys, ribs, and back. Eghizarian told Human Rights Watch that the men also threatened him and the others saying, “Sargsian will be president, and if you go against him, you will be killed.” He suffers headaches and has a bruise on his forehead as a result of the assault.  
A senior official for Ter-Petrosian told Human Rights Watch that at least three other proxies were beaten in Abovian on election day.  
Another Ter-Petrosian proxy who wished to remain anonymous told Human Rights Watch that large, athletic men would arrive periodically at another polling station in Abovian and would take prospective voters aside “for a little chat,” apparently in order to influence their votes. These same men also spoke to election commission officials, observers, and candidates’ proxies, and threatened them should they speak out about any violations. This same proxy told Human Rights Watch that in mid-afternoon some men took him aside and threatened him and told him, “You didn’t see anything.” He claimed that these men were responsible for stealing and falsifying ballots and stuffing the ballot box at this polling station. Police stood by and did not respond. This proxy stated that he continued to fear for his safety and had sent his children to another location and was reluctant to leave his own apartment.