Sunday, 2 March 2008

News update - Yerevan, Armenia, 2pm local time: 9 killed in protest over election results (CNN), tanks, Ter-Petrosyan team statement

Tanks can be seen here and there in central Yerevan, especially around Baghramyan st, Republic sq and some governmental buildings. Many police forces and to lesser extent soldiers.

There are unconfirmed reports that people are gathering here and there to discuss the situation.
General mood, as described by some Yerevan residents, is that of anger towards ruling regime and their impossibility to remain in power after what they've done by violently dispersing peaceful protesters in Liberty sq and imposing a state of emergency. Many people who would otherwise be considered as fierce critics of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, now realised that it is not a matter of Levon, it is a struggle of people for their rights and for changes in Armenia.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan campaign team issued a statement condemning ruling regime for infiltrating "agent provocateurs" to conduct lootings and other provocations to 'justify' their use of force against demonstrators. Ter-Petrosyan campaign team call it "terror against people" and put all responsibility on Armenian authorities, and personally incumbent president Robert Kocharyan and prime minister Serj Sargsyan.

CNN now reports, based on official sources, that clashes between protesters and police have killed at least 9 people (8 civillians and 1 police officer). Various reports indicate that there are many injured among civillians, however no one can provide any reliable estimates as for now.

Haroutiun Khachatrian, editor of the Noyan Tappan News Agency, told CNN that riot police arrested several hundred people in the square Saturday morning, including many opposition party officials. Ter-Petrosian was there but was not arrested, he said. [legal status of Ter-Petrosyan is not clear yet, but he is effectively inder 'house arrest'] [officials say about only 15 arrested opposition supporters]

A spokeswoman of Foreign Ministry appeal for help of international community in mediating poliical dialogue between opposition and authorities: "We are hoping with the help of the international community, the opposition, the leader of the opposition, will come and enter a political dialogue rather than continuing this debate on the streets," she said.

An Armenian woman interviewed by CNN said there was "huge chaos" when police moved in.

"These are innocent people," she said. "They just want their freedom. They just want to be heard. They are being beaten up, some people have horrible wounds." She asked that CNN not use her name because she feared for her safety.

*source of photo - AP, via CNN

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