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Armenian Government Won't Adhere To Opposition Demand

Davit Harutiunian: "I will not deal with it."
Davit Harutiunian: "I will not deal with it."
YEREVAN -- Armenia's governing coalition says it has no intention to expedite the release of an opposition activist and thus allow for renewed negotiations with the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Davit Harutiunian, head of a coalition negotiating team, made it clear that it will not plead with police to free Tigran Arakelian, a leader of the HAK's youth wing charged with assaulting police in downtown Yerevan on August 9.

"I think that that issue cannot be discussed on the political plane," Harutiunian told RFE/RL on September 12. "It's a legal issue and it must be solved on the legal plane."

"As someone engaged in politics, I will not deal with it," said Harutiunian, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs.

Eduard Sharmazanov, another senior parliament deputy and the spokesman for President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), likewise said that the onus is on the HAK to restart the dialogue which it suspended last month in protest of Arakelian's prosecution.

"I think it should be beneficial for the [HAK] and everyone to continue the dialogue, and here the problem is within the [HAK]. It's the [HAK] that suspended [the talks], and it's the [HAK] that must resist the temptation to follow political techniques," Sharmazanov told RFE/RL.

Addressing thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan on September 9, HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrossian said the HAK is still ready to resume the talks if Arakelian is set free "in the coming days." Otherwise, he warned that "we will be compelled to talk to the authorities in another language."

Ter-Petrossian said at the same time that in the latter case his bloc will not seek to stage a "revolution or uprising" and would instead hold frequent demonstrations in Yerevan's Liberty Square.

The HAK rally coincided with a meeting late on September 9 of the ruling HHK's board, which is led by Sarkisian. Sharmazanov said the board did not discuss Ter-Petrossian's statements.

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