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Embattled Armenian Opposition Party Quits Parliament Session

YEREVAN -- The opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) have walked out of parliament to protest what members called a government crackdown on their leader, embattled tycoon Gagik Tsarukian.

BHK lawmakers left the parliament chamber after the secretary of the party's faction, Naira Zohrabian, announced a decision to boycott a four-day parliament session that began on February 23.

On February 12, President Serzh Sarkisian told leaders of the ruling Republican Party that Tsarukian was "evil" and should not be allowed in politics.

Since then, several BHK members have been detained on what the authorities say is suspicion of illegal weapons possession.

The BHK said the detentions were an attempt to impose political pressure on announced plans for a protest on February 20 to demand Sarkisian's resignation.

But the party called off the rally after Tsarukian issued a statement saying he is ready to settle all disputes through "peaceful, lawful, and political means."