The New York Times writes about the aftermath of violent clashes in Armenia’s post-election protests noting that because of the state of emergency, which bans local media from interviewing opposition parties, only foreign media were present at a press conference by opposition leader and former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Tanks blocked central streets in the capital of this tiny mountain country on Sunday, a day after Armenian authorities clashed with demonstrators in a violent confrontation that left at least eight people dead and more than 130 wounded.

The government imposed a state of emergency, and for the first time since a contested Feb. 19 presidential election, the streets and central squares of this ancient city were empty of the crowds of protesters.

Any attempt at demonstrating “will immediately result in adequate and strict reaction by the armed forces,” Gen. Seyran Ohanyan, Armenia’s top military commander, said in a statement.

Levon Ter-Petrossian, the opposition leader who has led the crowds, and whose failed candidacy was the reason for the protests, said that he would not encourage his supporters to defy the curfew, and that the government had won by closing down his only outlet to the public.

“They’re happy with themselves,” said Mr. Ter-Petrossian, speaking to reporters in his 1930s mansion on the edge of Yerevan. “They got what they wanted.”


Mr. Ter-Petrossian blamed the Armenian government for what he described as a “slaughter.” Seven civilians were killed and only one security officer, according to the Foreign Ministry. Of the 131 injuries, 72 were police officers and 59 were civilians, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the Health Ministry.

The casualties prompted statements of concern by the State Department, the European Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


Mr. Ter-Petrossian accused the government of sneaking provocateurs into the crowd. “It’s their people,” he said. But he acknowledged that some of his supporters might have joined in. Looters who dragged cognac, cakes, fruit and even food scales from the Yerevan City grocery store on Saturday seemed to strongly support him.

“I’m fighting for honesty,” said a man in his 50s, holding a stolen beer in one hand and a lemon in the other. “Levon Ter-Petrossian is for the people.”

Fifteen people were arrested.

The emergency decree dealt a particularly paralyzing blow to the opposition because local television stations, controlled by Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan and President Robert Kocharian, virtually ignored the daily rallies, which often drew tens of thousands of protesters. “Losing the square means losing the connection to the people,” Mr. Ter-Petrossian said. “Now they have taken this away from us.”

According to the emergency decree, local news media are barred from disseminating information given by any source other than the government.

CNN segments about Armenia were clipped from television programming, and many Web sites were closed. Only journalists from foreign news organizations could attend Mr. Ter-Petrossian’s briefing.

Mr. Ter-Petrossian’s state-financed security detail had orders not to allow him out of his house, but Armenia’s foreign minister said he was free to leave if he agreed to forgo the security.

Armenian authorities have used violence against political opposition several times over the past 13 years. In 1995, for example, during Mr. Ter-Petrossian’s tenure as president, at least one opposition figure died in police custody after his political party was shut down, according to Human Rights Watch.