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In the shadow of the global COVID-19 pandemic, on March 31, voters from Azerbaijan’s breakaway region, ruled by a clique of the military junta in civilian attire, were ordered to go to the “polls to elect a president and parliamentarians”.
Official Yerevan has been funding and repeating the same “democratic elections” show every five years to use it as window dressing for the occupation of 20-per-cent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. However, despite numerous “free and fair polls” in Karabakh, not a single nation and even the aggressor Armenia has recognized Karabakh’s independence.
Armenia’s maverick Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan pinned much hopes on the “elections” show to have his own man to replace Serzh Sargsyan’s appointee. Though hard the Armenian prime minister tried to persuade him leave the post, threatening to cut the channel of financing the puppet regime’s functioning, he did not risk further, fearing influential Armenian lobby groups in Russia with links to overthrown Serzh Sargsyan and his predecessor Robert Kocharyan, who are on trial now in Yerevan.
Against the high hopes of the Armenian government to promote the bogus elections in the occupied Azerbaijani exclave as the democratic achievement of the junta contrary to “undemocratic Azerbaijan”, the coronavirus completely overshadowed Pashinyan’s ambitions, and it neither hit the headlines, nor let paid foreign observers to monitor it to further present the regime as democratic.
Backed by the aggressor Armenia, the separatist leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh turned a deaf ear to international calls for not to aggravate the already complicated situation amid the coronavirus pandemic raging around the world, posing a thorny test for countries and regions.
The first round of the election show took place and the former “prime minister” Araik Harutyunyan topped the list in the “presidential election”. Under the preliminary data, he received 33,000 votes. Second came the “former foreign minister” Masis Mayilyan with 16,300 votes. The ex-head of the Security Council, Vitaliy Balasanyan, garnered 8,600 votes.
The most curious is the statistics about the number of the voters that was put at around 76, 500, with 72-per-cent voter turnout. The “presidential elections” in Karabakh did not produce a winner in the first round as was expected. The regime wanted to show that the voting was fair and it is now up to the voters to once again to go to the polls to choose one out of two remaining candidates.
No presidential candidate in Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh has managed to win 50% of the votes and the elections will have a second round on 14 April.
The choice of the aggressor Armenia’s prime minister in Azerbaijan’s breakaway region enraged pro-Pashinyan forces. Reactions to the favorite of Pashinyan in the “elections” were critical.
Here are some of them. “Nothing changes in this f*****g region: the government gave the “victory” to the next fosterling of Serzhik, the robber No. 3 – Araik Harutyunyan, whom Karabakh hates without exaggeration. He is even more hated than Bako Sahakyan. It turns out that there are 39, 000 voters in Stepanakert (Xankandi) with the population of 34,500 people! Can you imagine? I just don’t remember such a disgrace,” a Karabakh resident said in a social media post.
Another social media activist from Karabakh gave a political description of Harutyunyan: “The subtlety of the situation is that Araik Harutyunyan is a man of both Serzh Sargsyan and Nikol Pashinyan. Nevertheless, by and large, he is a man of the US, because speaking in the library of the US Congress, Araik Harutyunyan with foam at the mouth told Americans that “we are carriers of common values with you”.
Third opinion from Yerevan: “To understand the situation in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, we need to remember the Bible. Serzh Sargsyan gave birth to Pashinyan, Pashinyan gave birth to Araik, etc. For example, Israeli sources claim that Pashinyan is also a man of Serzh Sargsyan. Therefore, Serzh Sargsyan has been unfazed for 2 years now; but for some reason, Kocharyan has been arrested, although the people didn’t overthrow Kocharyan, but Serzh Sargsyan. That’s why Serzh Sargsyan’s man, literally hated by everyone, “wins”. The whole Yerevan speaks about it already; people are furious that Serzh Sargsyan and his Pashinyan inflated the Armenians that there was no revolution, what would was a “secret” transfer of power under the auspices of the USA and so on.”
An article entitled “There are no 103,000 voters in Nagorno-Karabakh” reports on election fraud. The author of the article, the editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Third Force Plus, Vagram Agadzhanyan, writes: “The CEC of the NK clearly misinforms the public of Armenia and the Diaspora. According to the CEC, the number of voters in Nagorno-Karabakh is 103, 663. This figure is clearly not true and is aimed at openly misinforming the public of Armenia and the foreign Armenian diaspora. In order to have 103, 663 voters, it is necessary that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh to reach 140,000-150,000 people. This is understandable not only to professionals, but also to ordinary people. In addition, just such a figure is voiced by the mouthpieces of the NK authorities, without blinking, stating that about 150,000 people live in NK. That is, following the ‘logic’ of Serzh Sargsyan’s protégé – Bako Sahakyan and his CEC, for 32 years people in Nagorno-Karabakh were not born at all and did not die – as there were 150,000 people in 1988, and remained 150,000! This is, to put it mildly, a strange demographic ‘stability’”.
The newspaper Third Force Plus with all responsibility declares: this figure is an absolute lie that has nothing to do with existing realities. According to clarifying information, the population of Karabakh is now about 100,000 people. In addition, this means that the number of voters in Karabakh is 60,000-65,000 people. In addition, this, in turn, means that the NK authorities are preparing to falsify the election results by attributing to the pro-government candidates about one third of the voters – about 40,000 people.
Another fact is puzzling. The authorities report that 282 polling stations have been formed, one of which is located in the NK office in Armenia, and the other is in the Susa penitentiary institution. A question to the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh: why aren’t the same polling stations were not created in the representations of Nagorno-Karabakh in European countries, Lebanon, the USA and especially in the Russian Federation, where tens of thousands of Karabakh people live? Have the regime of Serzh Sargsyan and the NK authorities not only expelled them from their homeland, but also deprived them of their voting rights?
Based on the foregoing, I turn to the president and the Armenian prime minister: dear sirs Sargsyan and Pashinyan, you promised that the Armenian authorities will act as guarantors of free, transparent and democratic elections in Nagorno-Karabakh. These elections have already begun with a gross violation of the current legislation – falsification of the number of voters. I urge you to take immediate measures to restore law and justice in Nagorno-Karabakh, Vagram Agadzhanyan, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Third Force Plus, said.
The international reaction to the conduct of the bogus polls in the breakaway region of Azerbaijan triggered condemnation and gave backing to Azerbaijan’s sovereignty.
“The Georgian Foreign Ministry reaffirms its support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and does not recognize the so called presidential and parliamentarian elections held on March 31, 2020 in Nagorno-Karabakh. Georgia supports exclusively a peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in line with the norms and principles of international law,” reads the statement by the neighbouring nation’s Foreign Ministry.
“With regard to the `general elections’ that took place today in Nagorno-Karabakh, NATO does not accept the results of these `elections’ as affecting the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and stresses that the results in no way prejudge the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh or the outcome of the ongoing negotiations to bring a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai posted on his official Facebook page.
“NATO supports the OSCE Minsk Group, including the recent statement of the co-chairs on this issue,” Appathurai added.
Another resounding support came from the OSCE Minsk Group with the international mandate to mediate the solution of the years-old conflict.
“The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs (Igor Popov of Russia, Stéphane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the USA) have taken note of the so-called `general elections’ in Nagorno-Karabakh, the first round of which took place on 31 March.
“In the context of a comprehensive settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the co-chairs recognize the role of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh in deciding its future in accordance with the principles and elements reiterated in the co-chairs’ statement of 9 March 2019. The co-chairs note, however, that Nagorno-Karabakh is not recognized as an independent and sovereign state by any of the co-chair countries or any other country,” the statement by the co-chairs says.
“Accordingly, the co-chairs do not accept the results of these “elections” as affecting the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and stress that the results in no way prejudge the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh or the outcome of the ongoing negotiations to bring a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the statement adds.
OIC rejects holding of elections in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh
“The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), view the holding of elections in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 31 March 2020 as in contravention to the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” says a statement published on the organization’s official website.
“The OIC General Secretariat further referred to the resolutions and decisions of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which supports a peaceful solution to the conflict on the basis of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” the statement says.
The EU also denounced the conduct of the “elections” in Azerbaijan’s separatist region.
“In view of the so-called ‘presidential and parliamentary elections’ in Nagorno-Karabakh on 31 March 2020, the European Union reiterates that it does not recognise the constitutional and legal framework within which they are being held. This event cannot prejudice the determination of the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh or the outcome of the ongoing negotiation process. The EU recalls its firm support to the OSCE Minsk Group and, in particular, to its Co-Chairs’ efforts to bring about progress beyond the status quo and substantive negotiations towards comprehensive and sustainable peace. The EU stands ready to further support efforts, aimed at early, peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The British Embassy issued a statement on the ‘elections’, which took place in Nagorno-Karabakh on 31 March:
“The UK does not recognise the ‘elections’ which took place in Nagorno-Karabakh on 31 March. The UK reiterates its full support for the OSCE Minsk Group’s role in the peace process and encourages Azerbaijan and Armenia to accelerate efforts to build confidence and achieve a negotiated settlement”.
The Czech Republic also joined the chorus of criticism and lashed out at “presidential and parliamentary elections” in Nagorno-Karabakh
On March 31, 2020, the so-called „presidential and parliamentary elections” took place in the Nagorno-Karabakh. In this context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic underlines that the Czech Republic does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework within which these elections were being held.
The Czech Republic fully supports the activity of the OSCE Minsk Group and its co-chairs and calls on all parties involved in the conflict for further peace processes, and supports the statement of UN Secretary-General of March 23, 2020, calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.