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PACE Confirms Criticism Of Armenian Parliament Probe

Riot police confront opposition protesters during the March 1, 2008, demonstrations.
Riot police confront opposition protesters during the March 1, 2008, demonstrations.
STRASBOURG, France -- The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) confirms that its two senior members monitoring the political situation in Armenia have criticized the results of an Armenian parliamentary inquiry into last year's deadly postelection violence in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Armenian parliament set up an ad hoc commission to investigate the March 1, 2008, clashes between security forces and opposition protesters demanding a rerun of the disputed presidential election.

Boycotted by the Armenian opposition, the commission issued a report saying that the breakup of the protests, which left 10 people dead, was "by and large legitimate and adequate."

John Prescott and Georges Colombier, the PACE rapporteurs on Armenia, assessed the report in an "information note" that was submitted to the Strasbourg-based assembly's Monitoring Committee on December 21.

The rapporteurs welcomed recommendations made by the Armenian commission, but dismissed as "one-sided" other parts of the report.

Prescott and Colombier were particularly critical of the commission's description of events leading up to the clashes and "the practically total lack of discussion and analysis" of mass arrests of opposition members that followed them.

"As the report of the Commission lacks any recommendations in this respect, a follow-up inquiry into these aspects should be recommended," they said.

They further deplored the Armenian authorities' failure to clarify the circumstances in which eight civilians and two police were killed during the unrest.