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Armenian opposition undeterred by Freedom Square ban

Wed 30 March 2011 12:27 GMT | 17:27 Local Time

The opposition Armenian National Congress is continuing preparations for a rally on 8 April.

"We will ignore Yerevan Municipality's 'illegal decisions'," Arman Musinyan, Armenian National Congress spokesman Arman Musinyan said, referring to city hall's refusal to grant permission for the rally to take place in Freedom Square.

Asked whether the congress might head towards the square during the rally on 8 April, as they did on 17 March, Musinyan said: "The Congress pursues its own policy and any decision by the Congress board will be carried out."

"Any authorities have to be realistic enough to understand that not meeting the demands of a huge crowd is unreasonable," he said, referring to a recent statement by Armenian police chief Alik Sargsyan that the police might allow demonstrators to enter the square. 

The Congress is visiting the regions and meeting youth groups and others ahead of the rally.

Thousands of opposition supporters attended a National Congress rally near the Manuscripts Institute on 17 March. After the main part of the rally was over, the demonstrators marched to Freedom Square where the police allowed them access after negotiations.

This was the first National Congress rally on the square since a ban was imposed after the violent dispersal of protests on 1 March 2008 at perceived fraud in the presidential elections.

Speaking to Tert.am on Saturday, the chief of police said they might allow the crowd to enter the square on 8 April too. "I don't rule out the possibility; it depends on the situation. We are trying to avoid conflicts," Sargsyan said.


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