Thousands gather at protest in Armenian capital, call for bigger rally Friday

AP Worldstream
Apr 05, 2004


An estimated 8,000 opposition demonstrators gathered for a rally in
the center of the Armenian capital on Monday, and one of the protest's
leaders said an even larger demonstration to take place Friday.

"A change of power is unavoidable," Artashes Gegamian, leader of the
National Unity bloc, told the gathering. "Massive acts of protest will
begin April 9."

Armenia is gripped by an array of dissatisfactions _ from poverty to
the unresolved status of the ethnic Armenian enclave of
Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan _ which were aggravated by widespread
complaints that last year's presidential and parliamentary elections
were fraudulent.

Unidentified youths smashed video and still cameras of several
journalists at the rally.

Some women at the rally circulated among police, giving them
carnations in an apparent echo of the roses given by protesters to
police in neighboring Georgia during last year's massive
demonstrations that forced President Eduard Shevardnadze to resign.