The Armenian military urged Yerevan residents Sunday to comply with a state of emergency imposed the previous night, warning that its soldiers deployed in the city center would “strictly” counter any attempts to stage more anti-governmenr rallies there.
“I would like to warn all citizens that any attempt to organize or participate in events prohibited under the state of emergency would be adequately and strictly countered by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia,” Colonel-General Seyran Ohanian, chief of the army staff, said in a televised address to the nation.
“I particular, I am asking you to refrain from attempting to assemble in Yerevan even in small groups,” said Ohanian. The army would step in at the “slightest” sign of such attempts, he added.
Hundreds of troops backed by armored vehicles continued to patrol key squares and street junctions in downtown Yerevan as of Sunday evening. In particular, they cordoned off the sreet where riot police fought pitched battles with angry supporters of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. Troop presence was also strong outside Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s office and Liberty Square where thousands of Ter-Petrosian supporters had been camped for 11 days.
President Robert Kocharian, meanwhile, visited the site of the protest littered with stones and other traces of the late-night violence. Television images showed him inspecting the charred hulk of a police vehicle set ablaze by protesters outside the Yerevan mayor’s office.
Kocharian’s office said the outgoing president also discussed the post-election unrest in Armenia in a phone conversation with Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign and security policy chief. It said Solana expressed his “solidarity with the president and the people of Armenia” and pledged to send a special envoy to Armenia.