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Armenia parliament votes to restrict public demonstrations

[JURIST] The National Assembly of Armenia [official website] voted during an emergency session [press release] Monday to place restrictions on rallies and demonstrations. By a vote of 90-6, the parliament empowered the government to ban rallies if a "trustworthy" report indicates that a demonstration would pose a risk to "national security, public order, or violate citizens' constitutional rights." Opposition members say that the new measures are directed at stifling their rallies against the recent presidential election, which they say was plagued by fraud.

Last week, Armenian President Robert Kocharian [official website] issued a decree lifting media restrictions put in place during a state of emergency [JURIST reports] declared after last month's contested election. Many media restrictions remain in place, however, and the government is accused of censoring material deemed to be critical of its policies [RFE/RL report]. Kocharian declared the state of emergency on March 1 after protesters demonstrated against the result of the February 19 presidential election in which Prime Minister Serzh Sarksyan [official profile], a Kocharian ally, was declared the winner [BBC report]. Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court of Armenia rejected a challenge [JURIST report] brought by opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian [campaign website] against the election results, ruling that although polling discrepancies existed they did not affect the election's outcome. Reuters has more.

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