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Council Of Europe Concerned By Armenian Unrest


Strasbourg, 14 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The Council of Europe's Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer today expressed concern about recent violence in Armenia and warned authorities that arrests of lawmakers in a member country are "not acceptable."

Also today, Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly President Peter Schieder said he had conveyed his "great concern" to Armenian Parliament Speaker Artur Baghdasarian and asked him for detailed information on recent events in Yerevan.

These comments came after Armenian police early yesterday used water cannons, truncheons, and blank grenades to break up an antigovernment rally and detained three opposition lawmakers in connection with the unrest. The three were released earlier today, but several opposition activists remain in police custody.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian has blamed the opposition for the unrest and vowed to clamp down on any further expression of "political extremism."

The opposition accuses Kocharian of stealing votes in last year's presidential and legislative polls and wants his leadership to be put to a national vote of confidence.
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