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Armenian Opposition Defies Government Ban On Rallies

16 April 2004 -- Thousands of opposition activists are gathering in central Yerevan to demand the departure of President Robert Kocharian despite a government ban on unsanctioned rallies.

Armenian media report protesters initially sought to stage their rally on Freedom Square but were prevented from doing so by hundreds of policemen blocking access to the area ahead of official ceremonies due to be held nearby. Demonstrators then moved to the Matenadaran Library area.

A similar protest turned violent earlier this week when police forcibly dispersed up to 3,000 demonstrators in front of the parliament's building.

The opposition Justice Alliance and its allies accuse Kocharian of rigging last year's presidential and parliamentary elections and want his leadership to be put to a national vote of confidence.

(A1+ TV/Arminfo/AFP)

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