Interview with Edmond Marukyan, lawyer, human rights activist, who defeated Republican Victor Dallakyan in Vanadzor, electoral district 30
Mr Marukyan, in the past decade you were committed to democratic transition of Armenia, promotion of the civil society, strengthening of democratic institutions. Can we say your activities in these years were productive, the citizens of Vanadzor made a civic vote, despite the support Victor Dallakyan received from the Republican governor?
In the past ten years I was a civil society activist, participated in the promotion of the civil society, democratic institutions. As a lawyer, I protected human rights in different instances of the European Court of Human Rights. In the past ten years, I was a human rights activist. As a civil society personality, I tried to influence through different NGOs the development of different democratic institutions, political agenda, the continuous process of strengthening the civil society. It is known that the civil society in Lori marz is more developed than in other marzes and even Yerevan. So, the success of my campaign can be linked with our contribution in the past ten years. We are reaping what we sowed.
Victor Dallakyan was a non-partisan member of parliament but recently he has joined the Republican Party. Will you later change your decision or is it your principle to be non-partisan?
As long as the political system in Armenia is not developed to the degree of democratic decision making, participation of everyone in decision party, I cannot see myself in any party. As a representative of the civil society, as a human rights activist, I am committed to independent and free activities rather than political agreements. In the nearest future I will not join any party. As to Victor Dallakyan, once he used to be a Republican in the past, and frankly speaking, I don’t want to discuss this.
In these elections we saw abundance of election bribes. What will be your priority in the National Assembly?
I will participate in lawmaking, I will continue to be a human rights activist, represent the interests of people in the National Assembly to ensure that human rights, interests and freedoms are respected by any law adopted by the National Assembly, as long as my powers as a member of parliament will be enough.
The use of administrative resource and other problems relating to the elections are solved in some places, neutralized in other places, and yet there are places where there is nothing we can do. It is connected with general development. If the voters are poor, it will always be easy to direct them, have them vote for one candidate or another, for one force or another, by attracting them with something. In this sense, we are facing a challenge, and the civil society cannot develop in isolation from social issues and have any impact. On the other hand, the administrative resource did not have the expected impact in some places. There were other factors that mattered.
As a lawyer and human rights activist, what is your evaluation of the post-election and pre-election period?
The pre-election period is the period which starts from the next day of an election and lasts till the next election. Now the pre-election period of the next parliamentary election started. It means that we must ensure freedom of speech, assembly, press, television, pluralism, equal opportunities by 2017. In that case, we will be able to state that the pre-election period was democratic and compliant. Meanwhile, we pay attention to this only during the official campaign period, while people did not have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, other freedoms for 4-5 years, which affected the pre-election process. As to the campaign itself, it was mostly calm, the administrative resource was used, and thus the candidates or parties did not have equal opportunities.
The civil society won in Mashtots Park, the citizens won in Vanadzor. Does the citizen win?
Yes, we the representatives of the civil society win victories but these victories are single cases, although they are encouraging. In other words, we cannot achieve systemic change, we must try to move forward and transform single victories to systemic change, change of phenomena.