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Armenian Opposition Lawsuit Against Government Thrown Out

Gagik Jahangirian, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) leader who coordinated the lawsuit.
Gagik Jahangirian, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) leader who coordinated the lawsuit.
YEREVAN -- A Yerevan court has thrown out a lawsuit claiming that the Armenian authorities' crackdown on opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian's 2008 postelection demonstrations violated laws and the constitution, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Ter-Petrosian's Armenian National Congress (HAK) filed the case last month, invoking an article of the Administrative Code that deals with civil rights. It challenged the legality of the government actions that led to the deadly break-up of street protests in March 2008 that were staged after the disputed presidential election.

The crackdown included the imposition of a state of emergency in Yerevan and the use of the Armenian army, which left 10 people dead and more than 200 others injured.

Gagik Jahangirian, an HAK leader coordinating the lawsuit, told RFE/RL on November 3 that the court refused to consider the suit -- which was signed by more than 100 opposition supporters -- on the grounds that the plaintiffs "misinterpreted" the Administrative Code. He said the HAK will appeal the decision.

"The authorities lacked the audacity to allow a court controlled by them to publicly consider the legality of the actions taken by state security bodies," Jahangirian told RFE/RL. "They were afraid of taking up the case because public consideration of the matter would be a deadly threat to them."

The Armenian authorities have said that the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition attempted a coup d'etat in February-March 2008, and that the use of lethal force against and mass arrests of his loyalists was therefore justified.

The HAK insists, however, that President Serzh Sarkisian and his predecessor, Robert Kocharian, themselves usurped power by enforcing the results of what it sees as a fraudulent election.