President Kocharian Warns Against New Protest Rallies, Promises To E

PRESIDENT KOCHARIAN WARNS AGAINST NEW PROTEST RALLIES, PROMISES TO EASE MEDIA RESTRICTIONS

ARMENPRESS
March 12, 2008

YEREVAN, MARCH 12, ARMENPRESS: President Robert Kocharian warned today
the opposition against staging new protest rallies in Yerevan saying
even talking about it was ‘nonsense" just 11 days after a bloody clash
between opposition demonstrators and security forces that left eight
people dead and dozens hurt.

Speaking to reporters, Kocharian said it was time to take a little
rest. His remarks came in response to a request to comment on
ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s intention to stage a rally once
the state of emergency was lifted.

According to Kocharian, rallies and other mass assemblies should be
avoided for some time until tensions were down and polarization of
the society was reduced.

"Just imagine that the authorities allow a rally.

All those people who clashed with security troops on March 1-2
will gather in one square. Will come also police officers, as it is
their duty to ensure the people’s security. By the way, 108 police
officers were hurt in March 1-2 riot, 43 receiving bullet and explosion
wounds. No one can guarantee the safety of such a rally. Maybe, some
people will be glad to see renewed clashes with security troops and new
casualties to give foreign media an occasion to criticizes Armenian
authorities, but the authorities will not allow it, because there is
Article 40 of the Constitution that provides us with necessary legal
grounds for it. I advise that all citizens refrain from participation
in rallies and ignore provocative statements," Robert Kocharian stated.

Kocharian said everyone should realize that the weaker Armenia is
the bigger will be the temptation to exert pressure on the country
and its new president.

He said this is a textbook example.

Kocharian said the situation is not irreversible and things will
be back to normal track in a month or two. He said all those who
instigated the riot must be held accountable because if this is not
done the provocative actions will continue.

Kocharian agreed that the latest developments have affected the
economy, first of all the tourism sector, cutting drastically the
number of foreigners who planned to visit the country this year.

Robert Kocharian said also he was not going to extend the 20-day
state of emergency that was imposed on March 1.

Kocharian said there were no reason to prolong it.

To substantiate he quoted from law-enforcement bodies’ reports that
no violations of the state of emergency has been registered and that
the situation in Yerevan is under their full control.

Robert Kocharian said also he will decree, today or tomorrow, to lift
restrictions on mass media activity that came along with the state
of emergency.

According to the president, his decree will clearly indicate the
activities which mass media will have to avoid. Particularly, it will
refer to publication of obvious lies and provocative information.

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