BY VICKEN SOSIKIAN
Last week the ruling party in Armenia, led by Nikol Pashinyan, held a fundraising event to benefit the “yes” campaign in support of the unconstitutional and illegal referendum set for April 5. An estimated half million dollars were raised in one night.
The very next day we saw the unveiling of the “yes” campaign logo. Pashinyan’s camp paid $6,000 for the logo that depicts the Armenian word for “yes” in a font that strikingly resembles the letters of the Russian alphabet. The graphic is a direct copy of the logo used to support the 1991 Armenian referendum – an irresponsibly high price paid to copy-paste a design.
Some of the half million dollars raised have also been apparently allocated to the production of a music video encouraging Armenian citizens to vote “yes” on April 5.
The production marks a new low in deceptive campaigning and arguably crosses into unethical electoral messaging.
The central point being made in the clip equates a “yes” vote to a “yes” to the revolution, a “yes” to justice and a “yes” to freedom. Other than the singer, the music video focuses exclusively on Pashinyan.
There is not a single mention of what the “yes” vote is really about – changing Article 213 of the Armenian Constitution, to oust seven of the sitting constitutional court justices and secure their replacement by Pashinyan’s camp.
The “yes” camp is framing the referendum as a vote for justice, freedom and the ideals of 2018 people’s movement, while in reality the situation is the exact opposite.
Should they secure the needed 648,000 “yes” votes on April 5, the Pashinyan camp will control all three branches of the Armenian state – yet another violation of the Armenian Constitution and a dangerous blow to the democratic progresses made in the country.
All this for a referendum bull-dozed through in violation of the Constitution (articles 168, 169), the Constitutional Law Regarding Referendums (Article 8, Part 2) and the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly (Article 86).
To add insult to injury, the referendum will cost $7 million to taxpayers.
This is definitely not what Armenians the world over took to the street to accomplish in the spring of 2018.
Every Armenian who believes in the ideals of democracy, understands the importance of balancing power and wishes to see an Armenia where the rule of law prevails, must raise a red flag now.
This is a classic case of “speak up now or forever hold your peace…” or more accurately, “speak up now or forever pay the price.”