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Armenia: Leading Armenian Opposition Figure Rejects Govt. Claim

Yerevan, 27 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A leading Armenian opposition figure has denied government claims that opposition parties organized a coup against the government this week.

"Police have beaten members of my political party, The Union of National Self-Determination, and arrested other members. The party no longer exists," said Paruir Hairikian, a Soviet-era dissident, in an interview with our correspondent in his Yerevan apartment today. Government officials could not be immediately reached for comment on the claims.

Hairikian's party supported opposition presidential candidate Vasgen Manukian in Sunday's presidential elections. Controversy over electoral irregularities this week led to an assault on the parliament building by opposition supporters and a crackdown by President Levon Ter-Petrossian.

Hairikian, who is also a parliament deputy, said he was now under house arrest. Yesterday parliament lifted his immunity, which legally clears the way for him to face charges in connection with the uprising this week. He spoke to our correspondent