Opposition Rally Continues into Monday

YEREVAN (Reuters–Yerkir)–Up to 5,000 opposition protestors marched through the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Monday to demand the resignation of the nation’s president.

The protestors are calling for President Robert Kocharian to either step down–or for a nationwide confidence vote to take place on the Kocharian administration.

Speaking at the rally National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukian–said that neither the removal of the existing president or a new president will resolve problems–and suggested a plan be developed to draw the population out their situation.

Victor Dallakian–in turn–said it is not Robert Kocharian they oppose–rather his administration.

Riot troops sealed off the presidential offices and the nation’s parliament building.

Two deputies affiliated with the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc–Tatul Manaserian and Vartan Khachatrian–were briefly detained on Monday as they campaigned in the city’s northern and southern districts–urging local residents to attend the opposition rally due in the afternoon.

Over the weekend–prosecutors said that two armed men were detained on Friday for allegedly planning to carry out a "terrorist act" on behalf of an opposition lawmaker. The statement claimed that the opposition paid the two men to shoot at and "terrorize" its own supporters during a street protest.

State-run Armenian Public Television aired late on Monday the footage of an interrogation of the two men who claimed to have been paid by Artarutyun lawmaker Smbat Ayvazian to fire gunshots and "spread panic" during the first opposition rally held in Yerevan on Friday.

According to the Armenian Police Service–31 residents of Yerevan have been sentenced to between two and six days in prison while 28 others fined for attending the unsanctioned anti-Kocharian demonstrations in the capital. The police had no information on detained residents of other Armenian regions.

Also on Sunday–the authorities made a second arrest in their separate criminal investigation into the opposition campaign for regime change. Aramazad Zakarian–a senior member of the Hanrapetutyun party affiliated with Artarutyun–was held as he tried to enter Freedom Square.


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