2008 Armenian Presidential Election Protests

The 2008 Armenian presidential election protests, also known as March First or March 1 (Armenian: Մարտի մեկ Marti mek) in Armenia; were a series of mass protests held in Armenia in the wake of the Armenian presidential election of 19 February 2008. Mass protests against alleged electoral fraud were held in the capital city of Yerevan and organised by supporters of the unsuccessful presidential candidate and first President of the Republic of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

After nine days of peaceful protests at the Opera Square, the national police and military forces tried to disperse the protesters on 1 March. The protests began on February 20, lasted for 10 days in Yerevan's Freedom Square, and involved tens of thousands of demonstrators during the day and hundreds camping out overnight. As a result, 10 people were killed. Despite the urges of the government to stop the demonstrations, the protests continued until March 1. On the morning of March 1, police and army units dispersed the 700-1,000 persons who remained overnight, beating them with truncheons and electric-shock devices. As of March 4, many protesters are still missing. Since March 1, Ter-Petrosyan was placed under de facto house arrest.

At noon on 1 March, a crowd of at least 10,000 protesters held a rally in front of the French embassy. Police officers pulled away from the area by 16:00, as they were overwhelmed by the growing number of demonstrators. Activists then used abandoned police buses to set up barricades. In the evening, clashes broke out between riot police and about 2,000 protesters who barricaded themselves at Miasnikyan Square. At around 22:00, President Robert Kocharyan, with the approval of the Armenian parliament, declared a 20-day state of emergency, banning future demonstrations and censoring the media from broadcasting any political news except those issued by official state press releases. Kocharian justified the decision on the grounds that a minority of demonstrators looted a nearby grocery store on Mashdots Avenue and set fire to a handful of police vehicles and buses (while the riot police, special forces and army looked on from 1 km away from Shahumyan Square without intervening). Opposition leaders say that the looters had nothing to do with the demonstration, and that they were led by government provocateurs. With the state of emergency in effect, at around 4:00 on 2 March, Levon Ter-Petrosyan asked the protesters near the French Embassy to go home, thus ending the protests.

Read more about 2008 Armenian Presidential Election Protests:  Background, Timeline, State of Emergency, Government Response, Response of Coalition Government Parties, Opposition Response, Response of Media, International Reaction, Aftermath, Constitutional Court Decision

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