Opposition Rally in Yerevan

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan/RFE/RL)–The April 9 rally organized by the Artarutyun alliance and the National Unity Party–calling for Armenia’s president Robert Kocharian to step down or a referendum on his legitimacy–began with a one-hour delay and ended without major incident.

Reported attendance at the rally varied–with police estimates at 6,500; Noyan Tapan estimated that 25,000-30,000 people were present–while Radio Liberty put the number at 10,000. Witnesses–meanwhile–told Asbarez that 10,000–at most–people were present.

Rally organizers decided against marching towards Kocharian’s official residence. Hundreds of riot police and interior troops backed by water cannons were on standby near the street leading to the presidential palace.

While there was no visible police presence–opposition sources said at least eight demonstrators were arrested by plainclothes police immediately after the rally. The head of the Yerevan central Kentron district police department Hovannes Tamamian–confirmed that "several" opposition supporters were arrested at Freedom Square and would be charged with administrative offenses.

Midway through the rally–almost half of the participants disbanded. More than a hundred people remained at the square late in the evening–singing songs and listening to folk music.


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