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Having returned to U.S. afte a visit to Armenia, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, has sharply condemned a government crackdown on protests following last month’s presidential election.
“The violence really was deplorable,” Bryza said Monday.”It seems clear that the reaction by the government was harsh and brutal.”
Tigran Balayan, Head of the RA MFA Press Division, has said, in response to a question by ‘Mediamax’ News Agency:
We’re astonished that even after his visit to Yerevan, after meeting with and hearing from various official and unofficial sources, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza could make such arbitrary statements.Assigning such one-sided blame is unfounded and not helpful. The number of wounded law enforcement officers (108) — 43 of them wounded by firearms and hand-grenades — clearly demonstrates that rioters were in posession of firearms and explosives. That coincides with the operative information of law enforcement agencies which had informed the public about all this, days before the events of March 1. In that case, labeling the reaction of the government as “a crackdown on opposition protests”, or qualifying it as “harsh and brutal” is incorrect. This was not at all an attack by policemen on civilians.Armenia’s challenge, now, 10 days after that disastrous day, is to fully explore and understand what happened and find ways to move forward together.The international community’s focus should be to encourage all involved to take responsibility for the damage to the fabric of our society and to look for inclusive ways to move forward.Ill-informed statements can and do contribute to an escalation of political tension.