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Armenian Opposition Vows 'New Wave Of Protests'

Levon Zurabian

Levon Zurabian

YEREVAN -- The main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) has pledged to organize antigovernment protests to press for the release of 21 jailed supporters, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

Levon Zurabian, the HAK's central office coordinator, said, "We are going to mount a new wave of protests."

He said the party will do everything to ensure that the political prisoners and "those wanted by the authorities can live freely in their country."

The detainees are among supporters of HAK leader and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian who were arrested following the disputed presidential election of February 2008.

Ter-Petrosian said the "political prisoners" will be freed as a result of a "change" in the political situation, but did not elaborate.

Zurabian said Ter-Petrosian believes the government of President Serzh Sarkisian is being overwhelmed by challenges such as the economic crisis, Armenia's controversial rapprochement with Turkey, and an international push to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Zurabian said, "The illegitimate and corrupt authorities cannot meet those challenges today."

Sarkisian is due to meet Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in October for talks regarding Karabakh.

Ter-Petrosian and his associates have strongly criticized Sarkisian's Karabakh policy, despite past support for compromise with Azerbaijan.