Armenian President Kocharyan declares state of emergency

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Robert Kocharyan in 2001

Armenian president Robert Kocharyan declared a state of emergency in Armenia Saturday, after policemen used tear gas and firearms to disperse protests over alleged fraud in last month's presidential election. At least eight persons were left dead in clashes between police and opposition.

The announcement came from President Kocharyan's office shortly after riot police suppressed the rally of roughly 15,000 protesters. Earlier, demonstrators living in tents near the city of Yerevan's mayor's office were forcibly evacuated using batons.

"They attacked peaceful demonstrations in parts of Yerevan," said opposition official Alexander Arzumanian. "But the people are very resolute and they will struggle for their rights... There are a lot of wounded people".

Witnesses told the Associated Press about people being injured in the nighttime police action, although there were no official reports on casualties at the time. The health ministry said that at least 30 people, including six police officers, have sought treatment.

Kocharyan's office said that the state of emergency will be in effect for 20 days. The measure imposes a ban on all mass gatherings and an order that news reports of Armenian matters only include official information.

Armenia, officially the Republic of Armenia, is a landlocked, multi-party, and democratic nation-state. It is still technically at war with neighboring Azerbaijan over the de facto independent republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.


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