Kocharyan Reduces Curbs On Media Outlets


The Moscow Times
March 14 2008

YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenian President Robert Kocharyan on Thursday
lifted media restrictions imposed as part of a state of emergency
declared last month in the wake of a disputed presidential election.

Kocharyan’s decree, expected to take effect Friday, allows independent
media outlets to report on the government’s course and domestic
political issues. It also lifts restrictions on political leafleting
and other forms of party campaigning. A ban on public meetings and
strike action, however, remains in place.

Following the Feb. 19 vote, election officials declared Prime Minister
Serzh Sargsyan the winner over opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan,
who claimed fraud and led supporters in days of protests. The
government declared a 20-day state of emergency on March 1, after
clashes between protesters and police left eight people dead and
dozens injured.

Kocharyan eased some of the restrictions earlier this week, allowing
political parties to resume activities and ending the expulsion of
nonresidents from the capital, Yerevan.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed doubt
on Wednesday that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over
Nagorno-Karabakh could be solved soon, saying there were problems on
both sides.

"We have been close several times," Rice said at a Capitol Hill hearing
on the State Department’s budget. "And so we’ll continue to try to
work that. But I just have to emphasize, we have problems on both
sides right now, and we’re trying to make sure that both sides act
responsibly."The state of emergency in Armenia had made it necessary
to suspend some U.S. programs there, Rice said.