On election day, a late-night visitor told why he had voted for Gagik Beglaryan and his party in the day’s election. “First of all, I work for City Hall. I’d be stupid not to vote for Beglaryan. He has the power and the resources to get things done. Is he a saint, or close to it? Of course not. Is George Bush a saint, or Merkel, Blair, the others? Why do we expect more of our own leaders than of others?”
Kept out of the city center by work-related activities, I was unable to partake in any of the rallies that may have taken place near the Matenadaran or city center. Yet, I was at least somewhat enlightened at a hogihangist in Charbakh, several of the men standing in the garden under vines and mulberry trees telling what they had seen and heard during and after the election:
“It wasn’t an honest election, no matter how you look at it,” a Charbakhtsi said. “They bought the election. They were passing out money, five and ten thousand dram a shot. There’s no way they would have won without doing this.”
“As a Dashnak, you have no room to talk,” a native of the Erebuni district said. “When Dashnaktsutyun was in the coalition, they told their observers to keep quiet when they saw violations. Now they turn pure?”
Someone living in Avan said he saw people taken to various polling stations and forced to vote. “They had voter registration lists. When they saw names of people who hadn’t voted, they went to the buildings they lived in, and took them to vote. I had never seen so many Hummers in one area, though they also used vans, etc., to haul people in to vote.”
A woman with her guest from France came to where the men were standing, repeating the accusation that the election had been bought by the ruling party. Her guest, an Armenian from Lyon, said, “In France, people wouldn’t stoop so low as to sell their vote for a few dollars, or a dinner of khorovats,” to which I said, “In France, if the people were in the financial state of most Armenians here, they would have sold their soul and a lot more long ago,” a remark that needless to say didn’t earn me a new friend.