More than 3,000 anti-government protesters rally in Armenia

Agence France Presse
April 5, 2004 Monday

More than 3,000 anti-government protesters rally in Armenia


More than 3,000 Armenians took to the streets of Yerevan Monday to
protest against President Robert Kocharian and demand a referendum on
his contested rule in the impoverished, landlocked Caucasus nation.

The demonstrators brandished portraits of Artaches Guegamian, leader
of the opposition National Unity party, and posters calling on
Kocharian to step down. He was re-elected in March 2003 in a poll the
opposition says was rigged.

“We will wage a protest movement to remove this illegal government,”
Guegamian told the crowd, calling for a referendum on April 16 and
vowing fresh rallies later this week.

During his speech before the protestors in the centre of the Armenian
capital, eggs and stones were thrown from nearby balconies but the
rally continued.

Meanwhile, unknown people grabbed two television cameras and two
cameras from journalists covering the demonstration, smashing them to
pieces in front of police, who did not intervene.

On Friday, Armenian journalists held a rally to protest against the
threat to freedom of expression in this former Soviet republic, which
has been criticized by the Council of Europe for cracking down on
independent media.