Eight killed in Armenia protests over presidential vote results

By RIA Novosti

Yerevan : Eight people were killed and over 130 wounded in Armenia’s capital in overnight clashes between police and protesters unhappy with recent presidential election results, police said on Sunday.

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“The Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating the circumstances of those people’s death,” police said adding they were being identified.

Armenian riot police used tear gas and electric stun guns to disperse thousands of supporters of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who was defeated by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan in the February 19 vote. Sarkisyan gained 52.8% of the vote against the former’s 21.5%. Protesters said the polls were rigged.

President Robert Kocharyan declared a state of emergency late on Saturday to be effective until March 20.

Health Minister Arutyun Kushkyan said on national television on Friday a total of 131 were injured in the clashes.

“Hospitals provided medical aid to 131 people, including 72 police and soldiers and 59 civilians,” he said adding 16 soldiers and 18 civilians suffered gunshot wounds, with eight of them lethal ones. 41 people have been released from hospitals by now.

Ter-Petrosyan’s supporters have rallied since the next day after the polls, demanding a rerun and access to national television. On Friday, the opposition challenger appealed against the vote results with the Constitutional Court.

Foreign monitors said the vote in the ex-Soviet Caucasus state corresponded to international standards.

Protests turned violent on Saturday, when groups of protesters set fire to two dozen cars, including police vehicles and ambulances, smashed windows in major buildings in central Yerevan and looted a supermarket.

The army took control of the capital by early morning. Several armored military trucks and soldiers patrolled the area near the government and foreign ministry buildings in the center.