Many speculate that the government has made extensive use of administrative resources ahead of the elections, but there has never been factual evidence of these claims. SUT.am decided to check the use of administrative resources in education sphere and gathered numerous evidence.
Specifically, we began to call principals of secondary schools and kindergartens, introducing ourselves as Republican Party headquarter representatives, and made inquiries about the voter lists being collected.
Everything for the Republican Party
As a result, 84 school and 30 kindergarten principals of all regions of Armenia and Yerevan presented detailed data about their collected lists. Only 22 percent of principals denied collecting lists for Republicans (some of them by guessing that the telephone caller is not really a Republican).
Typically, upon hearing the phrase “We’re from Republican Party central headquarters” the principals were inclined to answer all our questions (as in how many people are in the list, who are those lists transfered to, which candidates were “warned” about).
Moreover, the principals often presented other details. That’s how we found out that the lists are collected either personally or by the teachers and kindergarten nurses.
The lists vary in size. On average, their size is 240 in schools and 150 in kindergartens, and sometimes they reach even 1700. The lists basically include the parents of the students. A principal (School N 37 in Gyumri) admitted using frightening tactics for people to vote for the Republicans.
Regional administrations, municipalities and prefectures
In regions, lists are typically delivered to the regional administration’s education departments (principals often mentioned the names of specific heads) and municipalities, while in Yerevan – to the Administrative district offices (prefectures). But there were also principals who proudly stated they had delivered the lists directly to the candidate headquarter (eg, “SAS Artak”- Artak Sargsyan’s, Seyran Saroyan’s, Vahram Baghdasaryan’s, etc.).
Our request to clarify whether they have “worked” with voters over the district candidates, many of the principals confirmed and gave names of specific candidates. Including Arayik Hovhannisyan’s, Artak Sargsyan’s, Mihran Poghosyan’s, Samvel Aleksanyan’s, Arman Sahakyan’s, Vahram Baghdasaryan’s, Seryan Saroyan’s, Samvel Sananyan’s, Gegham Hovoyan’s, Hakob Hakobyan’s, Bagrat Harutyunyan’s, Rafik Grigoryan’s names.
A funny incident happened in the town of Vedi, the Municipality Chief of Staff called us back, said that he collected lists of schools and asked how he could help us.
It should be noted that all calls were made exclusively on working days and during working hours, in almost all cases on the school work (PSTN) phone numbers.
Overall we called a total of 136 schools and kindergartens principals, out of which 114 principals admitted the fact of collecting lists. Only a few directors said that “the school was apolitical.”
About 75% of the principals delivered lists to the Regional administrations, municipalities and prefectures, while 25% – directly to the Republican headquarters (campaign offices). And one of the principals has submitted the list directly to “Catherine Group” Co. Ltd/ belonging to Mihran Poghosyan.
Judging by the words of principals we spoke to, all regional administrations (except for those headed by representatives of ARF Dashnaktsutyun ), staffs of almost all administrative districts of Yerevan and many municipalities are involved in this pyramid of misuse of administrative resources.
P.S. Note that although we misrepresented ourselves to the principals and recorded conversations without prior notice, we did not violate the existing Armenian legislation. This was a last resort step, since this work ideally has to be done by law enforcement bodies, using operational intelligence capabilities.
As evidence to the abovementioned statements, we publish the recordings of our conversation with only those principals who admitted to collecting lists. We will not publish the recordings with those 22 principals who did not admit the fact of collecting lists.
The list of school principals recordings here.
The list of kindergarten principals recordings here.