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U.S. Envoy Visits Hunger-Striking Opposition Leader


Armenia -- Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian on hunger strike in Yerevan's Liberty Square, 21Mar2011.

Armenia -- Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian on hunger strike in Yerevan's Liberty Square, 21Mar2011.

Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, visited opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian Monday on the 14th day of his hunger strike against the Armenian government.


Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that they discussed his health condition, the state of human rights and the overall political situation in the country. He said he reaffirmed his view that the Armenian authorities must embrace “radical solutions.”

The ambassador’s visited was construed by Hovannisian as a call for an end to his round-the-clock sit-in in Yerevan’s Liberty Square. “The ambassador urged me silently, not with words,” said the U.S.-born leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.

Hovannisian made clear that he will continue the hunger strike because the authorities have still not showed readiness to address his concerns. He downplayed “courtesy visits” to Liberty Square by parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian and other senior pro-government lawmakers.

Hovannisian said he is still awaiting “substantive proposals” from the authorities. “If they will have something to say in the coming days or weeks, I would love to listen to them,” he said.

Asked whether he expects President Serzh Sarkisian to state that he is ready to call snap elections, Hovannisian replied, “I have no such expectation. But I am ready to listen to any word uttered in good faith and reflecting the interests of the state from any official, be it the current president or an ordinary citizen.”

The Zharangutyun leader also noted that he believes Sarkisian has “positive human traits” despite having committed “significant political mistakes” while in office.
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