By Anush Martirosian
The Armenian government reacted with caution on Thursday to U.S. criticism of its human rights record and, in particular, the 2008 post-election crackdown on the opposition.
In an annual report released last week, the U.S. State Department accused the authorities in Yerevan of committing “numerous human rights abuses” and denying Armenians their constitutional right to change their government.
The 67-page report was particularly critical of the violent suppression of opposition demonstrations sparked by the disputed presidential election of February 2008. It said many opposition supporters were subsequently arrested on “seemingly artificial or politically motivated charges.” The State Department also reaffirmed its view that the election was “significantly flawed.”
Commenting on the report, a spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Tigran Balayan, said it contains both “some justified criticism” and “conclusions based on one-sided sources” and does not take account of “positive trends” observed in Armenia. “We have repeatedly pointed out that regardless of reports and their content, Armenia’s authorities are determined to continue the process of democratic reforms because that is the conscious choice of our people,” Balayan told RFE/RL.