its first mass gathering since the February 19
elections, the camp of President Robert Kocharyan
showed its might today with a demonstration twice
or more larger than any staged by the Opposition.
Stepan Demirchyan and his supporters gathered
at Republic Square at the same time as the pro-Kocharyan
rally was staged at the Institute of Manuscripts.
And while the Opposition rally snugly filled Republic
Square, the crowd spilling over from the Institute
stretched to Opera Square and created gridlock
in the city center's afternoon traffic.
Demirchyan has strong political strength in the
regions and those attending his rallies have tended
to reflect the dress and appearance of rural Armenia.
In contrast, today's Kocharyan crowd was clearly
demonstration was organized by the Dashnakstutyun,
Kocharyan's most loyal supporters and one of the
oldest political parties in Armenia. Their efficiency
at organizing a rally could be seen in the number
of banners and flags and by the presence of a
giant video monitor displaying the speakers' podium
several hundred meters away.
"We need such a victory to prove to all
those who blame us for falsification that our
victory is obvious," Kocharyan told his crowd.
"The Opposition made attempts to destabilize
the country and create in-fighting."
The President then listed significant eras of
Independent Armenia's history as examples of how
unstable political climate created difficulties
for the country, including: the Karabakh War (1991-94),
the second-term resignation of President Levon
Ter-Petrosyan (1998) and the Parliament assassinations
"Only the war was an excuse for the hardship
of the country," Kocharyan said. "The
others were artificial attempts to destabilize
the situation of the country."
President said the country still has problems,
but appealed to the crowd for a chance to solve
them by putting him in charge for a second term.
The speech of about 15 to 20 minutes began on
the theme of stability and ended with the same
"The only aim of our programs is to make
people's lives better," the President concluded.
Vahan Hovhanissyan one of the leaders of the Dashnak
executive council told the crowd that, under Kocharyan,
the country would be "cleaned" of those
who are trying to avoid criminal prosecution by
"We are here to prove to the world that
Robert Kocharyan does not need falsification to
be elected," Hovhanissyan said. "Here
are people from those 700,000 who voted for him.
We came here of our own will."
members in the crowd, however, told ArmeniaNow
that their participation was not exactly voluntary.
Students from the Agriculture Academy, who normally
have lectures on Monday afternoon, said they were
coerced to attend the rally by a professor who
said it would be "bad for them" if they
And some factory workers, including those from
Grand Sun Lamp and Grand Candy said they were
put on buses to the rally without being told of
Some factory workers said their employee identification
cards were taken as they were placed on buses
with a promise to get them back after returning
from the rally. And there were reports of employees
being told: "If you don't go to the rally,
don't come to work tomorrow".
One representative from the Municipality of Echmiadzin
says he was ordered to take his employees to the
rally. The man said he was worried what might
happen to him, because of the group of 60 for
whom he was held accountable, only five still
remained at rally time.
(ArmeniaNow reporters Zhanna
Grigoryan, Vahan Ishkhanyan and Gayane Mkrtchyan
contributed to this report.)