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Members of Armenia’s main opposition alliance held a public rally in the country’s second largest city of Gyumri on Monday during which they again denounced the policies of the current government and called for snap elections.

Aram Manukian, a senior member of the former president Levon Ter-Petrosian-led Armenian National Congress (HAK), said the choice of the venue for the rally was not ‘accidental’ since, according to him, Gyumri had provided the broadest response to the opposition’s campaign against the rise in natural gas prices in April. Manukian also called Armenia’s northern province of Shirak “an islet of freedom”. Three local television stations had run announcements ahead of the planned opposition rally in Gyumri, something that the opposition’s rallies never get in capital Yerevan.

Addressing thousands of opposition supporters in Gyumri’s central square, Armenia’s former prime minister Hrant Bagratian again raised the issue of the natural gas price rise. Many families in Gyumri, which is known for its relatively cold springs, still continue to heat their houses using natural gas heaters.

“It is ruled out that people can live well in a country whose president is the wealthiest man in it,” charged Bagratian, leveling his criticism at Armenia’s former president Robert Kocharian.

Aram Sargsian, the leader of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, blamed the government for allowing a European Parliament resolution calling “for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”

“This is a very dangerous resolution. I consider this resolution to be the last warning for the Republic of Armenia,” said Sargsian.

And Armenia’s former deputy prosecutor-general Gagik Jahangirian raised the issue of more than a dozen jailed oppositionists who, he said, remain unbending despite their poor health conditions and ‘unfair isolation’.

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