Up to 5,000 people rally in heart of Yerevan

Up to 5,000 people rally in heart of Yerevan With

12 April 2004
AVET DEMOURYAN; Associated Press Writer


About 5,000 people marched through the center of the Armenian capital
on Monday, the latest in a series of demonstrations against the
country’s leadership.

The march toward the presidential palace was halted about 200 meters
from the compound by police and the building housing Armenia’s
parliament. Leaders of the protest vowed to stay in that position
through the night.

Protest leaders urged president Robert Kocharyan and the ruling
coalition in parliament to appear in television debates to face other
politicians’ challenges.

They also called on authorities to allow the opposition free movement
to hold protests outside Yerevan.

Kocharian won a second term in presidential elections a year ago that
sparked mass protests, including nearly daily demonstrations between
the first round of voting in February 2003 and the runoff in early

Opposition groups alleged widespread violations in both rounds of the
election, which was followed by a parliamentary ballot in which the
pro-government party won the most votes.

In April, Armenia’s Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the
presidential vote but suggested that a referendum be held within a
year to gauge the public’s confidence in the nation’s leaders.