Armenians rally against president

BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK

Armenians rally against president

By Chloe Arnold
BBC correspondent in Baku

President Kocharyan’s election win is still causing indignation – Photo

Thousands of protesters have attended a rally in the Armenian capital
Yerevan to demand the resignation of President Robert Kocharyan.
The Armenian authorities did not sanction the rally and warned that disorder
would not be tolerated.

Dozens of opposition activists were arrested earlier in the week for holding
a similar demonstration.

The rally comes a year after a disputed presidential election which saw an
easy victory for Mr Kocharyan.

On Monday, police arrested dozens of protesters after violent clashes.

Human rights groups have condemned the arrests as well as an attack on two
journalists during the demonstration.

Georgian example

Opposition parties, backed up by international observers, said the vote had
not been free and fair.

The main opposition leader, Stepan Demirchyan, called for a referendum on
the results of the election.

But after the constitutional courts turned down his request, he said he was
forced to take more radical steps.

Many Armenians hoped the country would see an uprising similar to the
so-called Rose Revolution in neighbouring Georgia.

Tens of thousands of Georgians marched on the home of their President,
Eduard Shevardnadze, last November, forcing him to step aside.

Many in Armenia blame the current regime for chronic levels of poverty and
unemployment.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as many as a million Armenians have
left to seek a better life abroad.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS