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Putin, Hands Off Armenia and Ukraine: Victims of March 1 Commemorated in Armenian Capital

Activists and representatives of various civil society initiatives gathered near the Alexander Myasnikyan statute since this morning to commemorate the victims of the bloody events of Mar. 1–2, 2008, proceeded to march toward the presidential residence on 26 Baghramyan Avenue. 

At the start of the procession, police didn’t permit the marchers to walk on the road, asking they walk on the sidewalk instead, to which the march participants said the march has been authorized.

Reaching the Russian Embassy, marchers stopped, while former marcher, director of Concord Center, former Minister of National Security of Armenia, and former Armenian National Congress member Davit Shahnazaryan, through a megaphone, said their protest is directed toward not Russia but the Kremlin’s policies and Vladimir Putin, in particular.

“We blame Putin, who sponsored [former president of Armenia] Robert Kocharian, who used the regular Armenian army against peaceful demonstrators, to carry out the March 1 slaughter. Putin, hands off Armenia and the Ukraine!” said Shahnazaryan.

During the march, participants chanted, “[Armenian President] Serzhik [Sargsyan], go away!” as well as calling out the names of those who, in their opinion, are responsible for the events of Mar. 1–2, 2008: Robert Kocharian, Serzh Sargsyan, (Chair of the National Assembly in 2008) Tigran Torosyan, (leader of the Rule of Law party, which is part of the ruling coalition) Artur Baghdasaryan, (Chair of the Constitutional Court) Gagik Harutyunyan, (former Foreign Minister of Armenia) Vartan Oskanian, (member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, oligarch) Samvel Aleksanyan, and others.

The marchers managed to reach Baghramyan Avenue and stand outside the presidential palace with their signs. Inscriptions on the placards participants held included: “Serzh usurped the power of the people with March 1,” “Those responsible for March 1 should be behind bars,” “All those who are indifferent are accomplices to March 1,” and “Putin is the godfather of March 1.”

Arriving at the end of the demonstration was former Soviet dissident, Union for National Self-Determination leader Paruyr Hayrikyan, carrying an EU flag.

Giving speeches outside the president’s residence were journalist Gayane Arustamyan, and human rights activists Artur Sakunts and Levon Barseghyan.

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Below: The poster reads “Those responsible for the massacre on March 1” and depicts members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (top, left to right):  Samvel Aleksanyan, former Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglaryan, former governor of Syunik province Suren Khachatryan, and (bottom, left to right): Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan and major businessman, Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukyan (second from right on the bottom).

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Sign below: “The mark of the Kremlin’s hand: March 1, Yerevan [on the left] and February 20, Kiev [on the right]”

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Sign (below) on right: “Putin is the godfather of March 1”

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Below: Holding the tricolor Armenian flag are Chair of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office Artur Sakunts (left) and Chair of the Gyumri-based Asparez Journalists’ Club Levon Barseghyan (right).

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Below: Paruyr Hayrikyan with the flag of the European Union.

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