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Opposition Bloc ‘Undecided’ About Next Rally Venue


Armenia -- Riot police guard Yerevan's Liberty Square moments before allowing the opposition Armenian National Congress to hold a demonstration there, 17Mar2011

Armenia -- Riot police guard Yerevan's Liberty Square moments before allowing the opposition Armenian National Congress to hold a demonstration there, 17Mar2011

The Armenian National Congress (HAK) has not yet decided whether it will again enter Yerevan’s Liberty Square during its next antigovernment rally this week, a leading member of the opposition alliance said on Monday.


The HAK rallied thousands of supporters there for the first time in three years at the end of its last demonstration that began in another square in the city center on March 17. Riot police let the crowd into Liberty Square after brief negotiations with organizers of the protest.

The Yerevan municipality subsequently refused to allow the alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian to stage the next rally in the square on April 8. The HAK condemned the decision as illegal but has yet to clarify whether it will defy the ban.

“In all likelihood, we will decide together the people what we will do on April 8,” the HAK’s central office coordinator, Levon Zurabian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I think that Liberty Square will again be cordoned off by the police because the municipality … has again banned the rally there.”

“I am confident that we will [eventually] achieve a final liberation of Liberty Square,” he said.

The rallies are part of the HAK’s renewed campaign of street protests which the bloc says are aimed at forcing the Armenian authorities to free all “political prisoners” and hold snap elections. It is still not clear whether Ter-Petrosian is planning the kind of non-stop protests which he organized in Liberty Square in the wake of the February 2008 presidential election.

The HAK leader stressed the need for opposition caution in his speech at the March 17 rally. He also reaffirmed his conditional readiness to negotiate with President Serzh Sarkisian.
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