Armenian opposition holds new protest

Armenian opposition holds new protest

Associated Press Worldstream
June 16, 2004 Wednesday

YEREVAN, Armenia — Opposition leaders in Armenia held the latest
in a series of anti-government protests on Wednesday and accused the
authorities of trying to fool European human rights representatives
by easing a crackdown against opponents during their visit.

About 5,000 people gathered in the capital for a protest in central
Yerevan, the capital of the former Soviet republic, where speakers
denounced the foreign and economic policies of President Robert
Kocharian and his government.

Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian said the authorities “imitated
democratic reforms” during a recent visit by representatives of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, or PACE.

An opposition party leader was released from jail the day the
envoys arrived in Armenia, and prosecutors dropped a criminal case
against official of the same party the day they left, speakers said.
Wednesday’s protest was the first this year to be held with government

Opposition leaders in the small, poverty-plagued Caucasus Mountain
country have organized a series of protests this spring aimed at
forcing the resignation of Kocharian, who won a second term last year
in an election they claim was marred by fraud.