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Armenia Opposition Bloc 'Satisfied' With Election Performance

Armenia's parliamentary by-election in Yerevan attracted fewer than one in four voters.
Armenia's parliamentary by-election in Yerevan attracted fewer than one in four voters.
YEREVAN -- The main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) has said it is satisfied with its performance in a controversial by-election despite candidate Nikol Pashinian's defeat in a vote it claims was marred by reports of fraud and violence, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Levon Zurabian, the HAK's head office coordinator, claimed the bloc did well despite Pashinian's second-place finish.

Official results showed Pashinian with more than 5,000 votes, or 37.5 percent of the total, in the single-mandate electoral district covering much of central Yerevan.

Pashinian's pro-government rival, Ara Simonian, received 57 percent of the vote, according to official figures.

The vote was marked by a low turnout, which the district election commission put at about 24 percent.

Zurabian insisted that the opposition performance was "wonderful" given the fact that Pashinian is in prison and was unable to campaign and despite what he said was widespread vote buying, intimidation, and violence perpetrated by the Simonian campaign.

He also drew parallels between the vote and last year's troubled parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.

"In effect, our authorities adopted the Taliban tactics," he charged. "They resorted to intimidation during the pre-election period and on election day."

Zurabian also reiterated that HAK does not recognize the official election results and will challenge them in court.

Simonian, for his part, maintained that the vote was "very good." Simonian dismissed as "provocations" instances of violence against opposition proxies and journalists reported on election day.

"We will talk about that in detail later on," he told RFE/RL.