Municipal authorities in Yerevan have banned a rally which the Armenian opposition plans to hold in the city center on the first anniversary of the March 1 deadly clashes sparked by the 2008 presidential election, RFE/RL reports.
The authorities have proposed the opposition to hold the near Yerevan’s “Dynamo” stadium, just outside the city center.
Artak Zeynalyan of “Hanrapetutyun” party had presented a formal notification to the municipality on February 9th about their intention to hold a rally in the area next to Yerevan’s manuscript museum – Matenadaran or the Northern Avenue, to be followed by a march to Myasnikyan statue – the location of March 1 violent clashes between opposition supporters and the police.
Municipality said there’s an event planned at Matenadaran – so it’s not possible. They also said there’s an “expert conclusion” stating the rally on Nornern Avenue might “endanger the health and security of the people due to ongoing construction works there. (Now that one’s funny – I haven’t seen any traces of construction there for months!)
Artak Zeynalian, the Hanrapetutyun representative, denied receiving any letters from the mayor’s office. “Since we did not get a copy of the decision about the rejection of our application within 72 hours we consider our desire to hold a rally by the Matenadaran to have been accepted,” Zeynalian told RFE/RL. The March 1 rally will therefore go ahead and will be followed by a march through the city center, he said.
Yerevan municipality on its turn dismissed opposition claims, that they haven’t been duly informed about the decision, saying they’ve properly notified the opposition by a letter and posting information at the “One window” site of the city hall – which is probably true, because I searched the law on “Meetings, Rallies and Demonstrations” and found the points made by municipality to be more convincing
At any rate, looks like we’re in for an unsanctioned rally on March 1. Let’s hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst…