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By Ruzanna Khachatrian

More than 10,000 supporters of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK) staged a May Day demonstration in Yerevan on Wednesday, chanting Communist slogans and carrying Soviet-era hammer-and-sickle flags.

The rally was the only reminder of the fact that May 1 is again a state holiday and non-working day in Armenia. In a move initiated by the Communists, the Armenian parliament decided recently that it should be officially celebrated as Labor Day. It could have gone unnoticed by most Armenians had it not been for the Communist protest.

The demonstrators -- many of them bused into Yerevan from various parts of the country -- marched through the streets of the capital, responding enthusiastically to Communist speakers’ attacks on the authorities. Addressing the crowd through a megaphone, HKK’s second secretary, Sanatruk Sahakian, called for the resignation of the “anti-popular forces” ruling Armenia.

It was not clear whether Sahakian referred to President Kocharian who is facing similar calls from the country’s other leading opposition groups. Earlier this week HKK leader Vladimir Darpinian distanced himself from the opposition assault on Kocharian, saying a mere “change of individuals” would not remedy Armenia’s grave socioeconomic problems.

Darpinian on Wednesday told his party’s supporters nostalgic about their Soviet past that the HKK intends to create an alliance with other “popular and patriotic forces.” But he did not specify what those forces are, saying only that “socialism” will eventually be restored in Armenia.
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