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Doctor Concerned About Opposition Hunger Striker


Armenia -- A doctor examines opposition leader Raffi Hovhannisian's medical condition during his hunger strike in Yerevan, 24Mar2011

Armenia -- A doctor examines opposition leader Raffi Hovhannisian's medical condition during his hunger strike in Yerevan, 24Mar2011

A doctor monitoring opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian expressed concern about his health and urged him to stop refusing food as his antigovernment hunger strike entered its third week on Tuesday.


Tina Malkhasian, who works a state-run policlinic in Yerevan, has examined Hovannisian’s medical condition on a daily basis ever since he began the protest in Liberty Square on March 15.

“We are already concerned. My personal request to him is to stop,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service after the latest medical check-up conducted on the spot.

Malkhasian was worried about Hovannisian’s fluctuating blood pressure and warned of serious damage to his liver, kidneys and eyesight if he continues the action. “There are no signs [of such damage] yet, but the danger is growing,” she said.

“He started drinking less water,” added the doctor. “That’s also dangerous. He needs to drink 2-3 liters of liquid a day.”

Armenia -- Schoolchildren visit opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian during his hunger strike in Yerevans Liberty Square, 29Mar2011.
Hovannisian made clear, however, that he will continue the hunger strike. “I will certainly continue daily meetings with the doctor,” he said. “If my health problem becomes critical, I will reconsider [the protest.] But for the moment everything is stable.”

“I will continue as long as my will allows,” the leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Hovannisian began what his calls “freedom fast” on March 15 in protest against the state of affairs in Armenia and the government’s perceived failure to address problems facing the country. He has indicated that the holding of snap presidential and parliamentary elections is among “radical solutions” sought by him and his party.

Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian ruled out fresh elections after visiting Hovannisian on Friday. He said the Armenian authorities are ready to discuss other Zharangutyun demands and hope he will the end hunger strike.
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