OSCE, Council Of Europe Voice Concern Over Armenia Turmoil


Interfax News Agency
Russia & CIS
March 1, 2008 Saturday

The heads of two principal international organizations expressed
concern on Saturday over the Armenian government’s use of force to
disperse supporters of former president Levon Ter-Petrosian, who was
defeated in what is viewed as a rigged presidential election.

"I urge the authorities to use maximum restraint. I am troubled that
there are reports of casualties. I urge the authorities to release
those detained, and I again call on the government and the opposition
to engage in dialogue," Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva,
chairman- in-office of the Organization for Security in Europe,
said in a statement.

"I am very concerned about reports of injuries during the security
forces operation to disperse protesters in Yerevan this morning,"
said Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis.

"If these reports are confirmed, all allegations of excessive force
should be properly investigated. It is also vital to prevent any
further violence," Davis said in a statement.

"I am also alarmed by the reports that the runner-up in the recent
presidential elections, former President Levon Ter-Petrossian,
has been put under house arrest. If this is true, he should be
immediately released. If he is accused of committing a crime, he
should be properly charged and prosecuted in a court of law like
anyone else. In a democracy you cannot arbitrarily detain political
opponents," the secretary said.

Ter-Petrosian himself, however, denied at a news conference in Yerevan
on Saturday that he was under house arrest currently but said he was
forbidden to leave his residence. "I have also been forbidden to have
various visitors, but this ban has been lifted," he said.

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