STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources) — Incumbent Karabagh (Artsakh) President Bako Sahakyan won re-election on Thursday, July 19, taking 66.7 percent of the votes. Runner-up Gen. Vitali Balasanyan got 32.5 percent of votes, while Arkadi Soghomyan received 0.8 percent votes. In 2007, Sahakyan won by 85.12 percent, while his main opponent Masis Mailyan, by official data, scored only 12.53 percent. Thus, 80-90-percent victories were consid- ered to be the norm in Karabagh, however, things have changed and “the bar is lower” now and Sahakyan has cleared it with 67 percent.
The lack of an opposition was actually the reason why two years ago the Freedom House organization ranked Karabagh “not free,” removing it from the list of “partly free” countries.
The traditionally negative approach
of the international community towards elections in Karabagh has seen some changes. Despite the fact that Baku and Ankara made critical statements that they do not recognize the elections, Russia, France and the US refrained from making any statements. Georgia did not hold back, however, announcing through its Foreign Ministry, that it “wishes to reaffirm the Georgian government’s unequivocal support for Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that it “does not recognize the so-called ‘presidential elections’ which were held in Nagorno-Karabagh.”
European Parliament members Ewald Johann Stadler from Austria and Daniel Walder Stup from the Netherlands observed the elections. The observer mission from Europe included also experts from Bulgaria and Poland. Also monitoring the election was a delegation from the Canadian House of Commons and several Russian members of parliament. Russian Liberal-Democrat Party representative in the Russian State Duma Alexander Balberov stated: “The people have a right to decide which country to live in and under whose leadership, and which way of development to take.”
A total of around 80 international observers were present, from the US, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland, Cyprus, Hungary, Bulgaria, Argentina, Uruguay and others, as well a delegation of officials from Armenia.