Thousands Attend ARF Public Rally in Liberty Square

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan/RFE/RL)–To mark its re-registration in Armenia and make public a summary of activities from December 1994 to January 1998–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation held a public rally at Liberty Square on Thursday.

In his opening remarks–ARF Executive Council of Armenia member Hrayr Garabedian stressed that the ARF strictly upholds pre-election campaign deadlines and therefore finds it pertinent to clarify its position and strategy in the forthcoming presidential election.

ARF leader Edward Hovanessian–recently pardoned from exile–introduced the public to ARF ideology and principles emphasizing that its main objective remains the fortification of an Armenian statehood. He claimed that if the ARF does not succeed in changing what he called a "disgraceful" Armenian Constitution–it will "bypass it for the sake of the people’s salvation."

"Trial of 31" public defender Bagrat Yesayan provided a synopsis of the years-long trials and their respective verdicts–requesting the public to put the issue to rest–especially since the new administration has correctly judged the former political prisoners.

"Arapo" battalion commander Manuel Yeghiazarian inspired the audience with his emotional speech.

Chairperson of the Constitutional Right Union Hrand Khachatrian and National Democratic Union Chairperson Aram Sargssian pointed to the significance in taking advantage of the presidential elections to unify the Armenian nation. Khachatrian stressed that any effort to divide the people of Armenia and Karabakh into supporters of Russia and supporters of the West will be futile.

In the final speech of the rally–ARF Executive Council member Vahan Hovanessian stated that immediately following the presidential election fundamental changes needed to be introduced to the system of rule. He deemed it crucial to hold parliamentary elections–as well as to review the Armenian Constitution.

Hovanessian further claimed that "all those who have created financial power of the [formerly ruling] Armenian National Movement must be put on a just trial." He spoke against any acts of "revenge" against supporters of former Levon Ter-Petrosyan. "We should not treat them the way they treated us," he concluded.

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