March 19, 2011 - 13:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenian authorities displayed goodwill allowing opposition demonstrators into Liberty Square, said member of the ruling Republic Party Armenia (RPA).
“The authorities’ behavior was by no means affected by the presence of European officials in Yerevan,” Mkrtich Minasyan told a news conference on March 19.
Commenting on the actions of the Armenian National Congress, he said radical demands and ultimatums can never be accepted. “I have already said that the 15 demands of the ANC can be rated as ultimatum.”
However, according to him, the attitude of the opposition has changed in a way.
On March 17, several thousands of people gathered at 05:15pm for the opposition Armenian National Congress rally at the institute of ancient manuscripts, Matenadaran, in Yerevan. Police brigades controlled the areas near Matenadaran, Liberty Square and State Conservatory building.
Prior to the rally launch, messages were circulating among the Armenian oppositionists that the Armenian National Congress is planning to lead its supporters towards Liberty Square, despite the municipal ban. Besides, opposition supporters urged rally participants to march in the direction of the RA presidential residence.
At the end of the rally, leader of the Armenian opposition, RA first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan addressed the rally. After it, at around 06:30pm local time, Armenian National Congress (ANC) coordinator Levon Zurabyan urged opposition rally participants to march towards Liberty Square. The crowd enthusiastically responded to the urge. The police allowed the demonstrators' entrance after negotiations between Zurabyan and Deputy Chief of Armenian Police Alexander Afyan. At 08:25pm the Armenian opposition rally re-launched at Yerevan Liberty Square, though electricity was cut out. The ANC leaders urged the rally participants to follow their orders and calls. Levon Ter-Petrosyan spoke at the rally, urging the authorities to meet the opposition's demands: immediate liberation of opposition supporters, permission to hold rallies at Liberty Square, discovery of March 1 crimes. Besides, he called on the ANC supporters to obey instructions of the ANC. The rally at the Liberty Square was over at around 09:15pm. Some rally participants stayed at the square, expressing their support to leader of Heritage party Raffi Hovannisian, who has launched a hunger strike since March 15.
Coordinator of the Armenian National Congress Levon Zurabyan said that if the Office of Yerevan Mayor gives permission, the next rally will be organized in Liberty Square. Otherwise, the rally will be held near Matenadaran.
The RA Police said that around 9,000 people participated in the Armenian opposition rally. However, according to the opposition, the rally brought together 30,000 people.