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Armenia: Opposition Leader Foresees Troubled Spring

Yerevan, 26 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Armenian opposition leader Vazgen Manukyan says what he terms a "Belgrade Spring" of rallies and civil disobedience could force the Armenian government out of power.

Manukyan, a former prime minister, insists he won last year's controversial presidential elections. He will meet other top opposition figures Saturday to discuss measures to force President Levon Ter-Petrosyan to quit or agree to new elections.

Reuters quotes Manukyan as saying in an interview that meetings, demonstrations, universal civil disobedience are the natural way to apply pressure. He says many Armenians consider the four months of daily demonstrations in Belgrade a model for the Armenian opposition.

The Serbian pro-democracy protests against the annullment of opposition victories in local elections in November eventually succeeded in forcing the regime to recognize the opposition wins.

Ter-Petrosyan claimed victory over Manukyan in last September's election, but international observers said the vote was marred by fraud and irregularities. He then sent tanks into Yerevan's streets and security forces arrested and beat many of his political opponents.