Archive for February, 2013

Andrias Ghukasyan

Anti-corruption candidate, Andrias Ghukasyan, will continue hunger strike until 20 February, two days after the Presidential elections in Armenia.

Today in his 29th day of hunger strike, the 43 year old is camped in front of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences in the capital city Yerevan. He sits between two large posters, in Armenian and English, saying “Stop fake elections”. He believes Armenian President Serge Sarkisian’s government to be corrupt.

It was amidst allegations of corruption and street protests that President Serge Sarkisian came to power in 2008. However, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), gave the 2008 elections a relative clean bill of health.

Speaking through his wife Anna, as his condition is weak, he claims the ruling Republican Party is a “criminal party” and should therefore not participate in a presidential election. He made these feelings known to the election committee and went on hunger strike as a result of their inaction.

He believes President Sarkisian is “taking advantage of the poverty of ordinary people in Armenia”. He accuses the President of bribing local people to vote for him as he controls all systems of Government in Armenia.

He claims local school teachers vote for President Sarkisian out of fear of losing their posts in a time of 15% unemployment. The anti-corruption candidate claims voters passports are checked against the votes they cast. Although as it is a secret ballot it is difficult to verify such claims.

However, independent sources have claimed there is pressure put on teachers to vote for the Mr. Sarkisian and that most teachers were forced to join the Republican party.

Sitting placidly on a space blanketed deck chair, in a red Northland winter coat and black hat, Mr. Ghukasyan fights the harshness of the South Caucasus winter and the pain of 29 days on hunger strike.

His wife Anna reports his condition as good but worsened by such cold conditions. At night it can be as cold as -15 °C. The Public Radio of Armenia claim that while most candidates visited Mr. Ghukasyan on hunger strike that neither Mr. Sarkissian nor Mr. Bagratyan did so. The Minister of Health visits him every day.

Mr. Ghukasyan believes President Sarkisian will be victorious on 18 February but aims to “change the minds of Armenian people”. He wants the people of the South Caucasus’  “to believe they can change things in Armenia”.