Campaigning intensifying in Presidential contest in Nagorno-Karabakh.

With less than two weeks until the elections, all four presidential candidates have stepped up campaign activities in the self declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR).

This past week saw incumbent president and presidential candidate Bako Sahakayan touring the NKR regions between official duties and expounding the improvements and developments implemented by his government. He started his tour in Kashatagh region, continuing onto Martakert by the end of the week. Pointing to infrastructure repairs made since his government took power five years ago, the president also made clear that much work was still needed and committed himself to continuing to improve infrastructure and social services provisions if re-elected. While in the northern part of Kashatagh region he promised to focus on developing the local economy.

At a meeting on July 5th, at the palace of culture in Stepanakert, Sahakyan met with workers from the communications, energy and transportation sectors. Outlining advances in infrastructure and energy development and exploitation, the President announced his commitment to working with these sectors for a prosperous NKR.

Vitaly Balasanyan, whom many consider to be the principal opponent to incumbent President Bako Sahakayan, also spent last week visiting different regions of Nagorno-Karabakh for his campaign. Speaking to voters in Martouni, Martakert and Askeran regions, Balasanyan presented his platform, promising changes to how public affairs are conducted, and his commitment to the construction of a free and fair country. While campaigning in the Martakert region, Balasanyan expressed his pledge to village and agricultural development programmes.

At the same time, the third candidate, Arkady Soghomonyan, held meetings in the regions Kashatagh, Berdzor, and Askeran. He also spent time meeting with civil servants as well as staff at hospitals across these regions, presenting his election programme and answering questions about his plans.

Of the four candidates, only Valeri Khachatryan is falling behind in campaigning, citing financial problems. Khachatryan, however, has stated that he is relying on his 50 years of experience and personal recognition across the NKR for the campaign.

According to R. Petrosyan, the chairperson of the NKR Central Election Commission (CEC), no serious irregularities have been reported thus far during the campaign period. However, Balasanyan, has lodged a complaint with the CEC concerning Bako Sahakayan’s campaign material. According to Balasanyan, Sahakayan’s printed material was not properly registered with the CEC. The CEC has since confirmed that this issue has since been rectified.

The elections in Nagorno-Karabakh are not recognised by the international community and have been condemned by Azerbaijan as yet another Armenian provocation.

Report prepared for CEW by Karina Gould with files from Artsakh Today and