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Armenia Marks Independence Day


By Ruzanna Khachatrian

Armenia on Monday marked the 83rd anniversary of a short-lived independent republic created on the ashes of the Russian Empire at the end of the World War I. President Robert Kocharian led officials ceremonies at the Sardarapat memorial 30 kilometers southwest of Yerevan, the scene of a battle which many Armenians believe was central to the restoration of national independence after more than six centuries of foreign rule.

After several days of fierce fighting Armenian militias defeated advancing Ottoman troops on May 26, 1918 -- two days before the proclamation of the first republic. Kocharian said in a written address to the nation that the even marked the "rebirth of Armenian statehood."

The first republic ceased to exist in November 1920 when its Dashnak
leadership was forced to cede power by Bolshevik Russia.

May 28 was also commemorated in Nagorno-Karabakh. The authorities in
Stepanakert for the first time declared it a public holiday, underlining their close political and economic bonds with Armenia. Karabakh premier Anushavan Danielian described it as a "holiday of historic significance for the Armenian people."
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