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RFE/RL Reporter Roughed Up While Investigating Vote Buying In Armenia

Sisak Gabrielian (file photo)
Sisak Gabrielian (file photo)

YEREVAN -- An RFE/RL reporter has been attacked for the second time in two months while investigating potential vote buying.

Sisak Gabrielian, a reporter with RFE/RL's Armenian Service, was roughed up by government loyalists after he witnessed voters receiving cash outside a campaign office of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) in Yerevan during municipal elections on May 14.

After Gabrielian entered the office and attempted to interview HHK activists, several young men there berated and shoved him.

Gabrielian was forced to stop filming them with his mobile phone, and one of the men struck him with his hat.

Another man who identified himself as an HHK-affiliated member of Yerevan's outgoing municipal council then threatened Gabrielian but apologized to the journalist shortly thereafter.

The HHK leadership and law enforcement authorities did not immediately comment on the incident.

Gabrielian was also attacked by ruling party loyalists on April 2 after he asked HHK officials about people leaving a party office in Yerevan with cash in their hands during parliamentary elections that day.

He says he sustained minor injuries in that incident.

Armenian opposition and civic groups allege that the party headed by President Serzh Sarkisian relied heavily on vote buying to win the April 2 ballot.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also cited "credible information about vote buying."

An HHK spokesman admitted on April 5 that some candidates bribed voters, but said this did not have a "substantial impact" on the election results.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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