Armenian police break up opposition rally
By Hasmik Lazarian
YEREVAN, April 13 (Reuters) – Armenian police broke up an
opposition rally early on Tuesday in the centre of Yerevan
called to demand the resignation of President Robert Kocharyan.
“Overnight, police were forced to dissolve the protest
action. Arrests were made and several people were injured,”
police spokesman Sayat Shirimyan said without giving details.
Several hundred people had stayed on to continue their
action overnight after police blocked several thousand
protesters marching down Bagramyan Prospekt, the capital’s main
thoroughfare, towards the presidential office on Monday.
The police action was briefly reported by Yerevan’s public
television. Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency said police used
water cannons to break up the rally.
Kocharyan, accused by opposition of rigging his re-election
in 2003, has in turn accused his political rivals of attempts to
repeat last year’s “rose revolution” in neighbouring Georgia.
Opposition parties are demanding Kocharyan’s resignation and
have pledged to hold rallies throughout this week.
Last November, protesters rebelled against veteran Georgian
leader Eduard Shevardnadze, accused by opponents of rigging a
parliamentary election. In less than two weeks the campaign,
supported by the West, toppled Shevardnadze.
Kocharyan had run Nagorno-Karabakh — a territory populated
by ethnic Armenians which broke away from rule by mainly Muslim
Azerbaijan in Soviet times — and became Armenian president in
1998 on a wave of personal popularity.
But he has made little progress in solving the conflict over
the territory in which more than 35,000 people have died. Nor
have the lives of impoverished Armenians improved.
Participants in the Yerevan rally want to change a law on
referendums to hold a confidence vote in Kocharyan. The
Constitutional Court had proposed such a vote after Kocharyan’s
re-election last March, but authorities took no action.
International observers say parliamentary elections last
year had less fraud than the presidential poll two months
earlier, but fell short of international standards.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress