By Ruzanna Stepanian
A senior member of Levon Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement has alleged a widespread police crackdown on activists ahead of the opposition’s upcoming rally – the first such big action of the opposition after the bloody break-up on March 1 of its post-election street protests.
David Shahnazarian claimed on Thursday that police summon opposition activists to precincts for ‘conversations’ in order to prevent them from participating in the rally near Matenadaran, an ancient manuscripts depositary in downtown Yerevan, slated for Friday. He further alleged a ‘political order’ from the authorities to take preemptive action.
“Almost in all provinces police invite activists, representatives of the movement, active participants in previous opposition rallies and marches for so-called ‘conversations’,” Shahnazarian said.
Even so, Shahnazarian believes the Friday rally will be well attended. He also doubted that the authorities would resort to using police force to prevent the staging of the rally that the Yerevan municipality had refused to authorize, since “police understand that the authorities use them as a target” and that, according to him, became evident on March 1.
“There is ample reliable information that there were people [on March 1] who fired both at protesters and police. There are serious grounds to suspect that the authorities had also employed snipers,” Shahnazarian asserted.
Discarding the ad hoc commission recently set up in parliament to look into the circumstances of the March 1 clashes, Shahnazarian reiterated the opposition’s demand for an international inquiry and an equal participation of the government, the opposition and international experts in the probe.