Armenia Pressures Opponents, Arrests 30 for Post-Election Riots


YEREVAN (Reuters) — Armenian police have arrested 30 opposition activists for starting a riot, which killed eight people, the Prosecutor-General said on Tuesday, March 4, in a clampdown on opponents during a state of emergency.

Armenia’s military commander also said he needed the emergency laws to ensure stability but opposition leaders accused the authorities of abusing their powers. “Thirty people have been detained for provoking mass disturbances on March 1, not obeying the police and violent actions against policemen,” the Prosecutor-General’s office said in a statement. Police had already arrested a handful of prominent opposition figures — for allegedly plotting a coup or hoarding firearms — during daily mass demonstrations against a February 19 presidential election.

The protesters accuse Prime Minister Serge Sargisian of rigging an election last month in which he officially won 53 percent of the vote and his main rival, former president Levon Ter-Petrosian, won 21.5 percent.

Armenia’s current president and Sargisian’s ally, Robert Kocharian, ordered the army onto the streets of Yerevan and imposed emergency laws during riots on Saturday — the worst civil violence since Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.