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By Ruben Meloyan
The Armenian opposition will defy a government ban and tell supporters to march through central Yerevan after their rally on Friday, a spokesman for opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian said on Thursday.

The Yerevan municipality has reluctantly authorized the rally but banned the follow-up march planned by Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK).

“We intend to challenge that ban in court,” said Arman Musinian, a spokesman for the HAK and its top leader. But he made clear that the opposition alliance will press ahead with what it believes is a legal action anyway.

Ter-Petrosian is expected to use the rally for announcing a new plan of actions aimed at forcing the Armenian authorities to call fresh presidential and parliamentary elections. He and HAK representatives have so far avoided divulging any details of the new opposition strategy. Ter-Petrosian has only urged supporters to flock to his rally in droves.

The opposition is trying to ensure strong attendance at the rally by having small groups of young activists advertise the upcoming protest in the streets of Yerevan. Police used force to stop or impede these “notification marches” this week, prompting criticism from Armenia’s human rights ombudsman.

“The police acted in an absolutely illegal way, failed to present any legal grounds for their actions and restricted citizens’ right to inform [the public] about the rally,” Musinian told journalists.

“We condemn that stance and consider it a kind of petty hooliganism,” he said. “I am calling on the police to refrain from such dishonorable actions and not to execute political orders.”

In a related development, parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian urged the opposition to abandon its “ineffective” street protests, cooperate with the authorities and start preparing for the next parliamentary elections due in 2012. “I am ready to have any constructive proposal discussed in the National Assembly with the participation of all political and public forces,” he said.

Musinian scoffed at Abrahamian’s calls, saying that the former deputy prime minister and chief of President Serzh Sarkisian’s staff is “devoid of political thinking.” “Hovik Abrahamian has never held and can not hold a rally because he has nothing to tell the society,” he said.

(Photolur photo: Ter-Petrosian and his associates lead an opposition march in Yerevan in July.)
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