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US Broadcasting Board Objects to Armenia Media Restrictions

The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors has objected to the Armenian government's blackout of independent news media under the country's state of emergency.

James Glassman, the chairman of the board which supervises U.S. government-funded broadcasters including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said the measures forced VOA television and RFE/RL radio programs off the air on local affiliates in Armenia. He also noted restrictions Armenian authorities had placed on the Internet, and said censorship and harassment of the media are contradictory to democracy.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian imposed a 20-day state of emergency Saturday in response to mass protests against the conduct of last month's presidential elections. Mr. Kocharian Wednesday said he sees no reason to lift the state of emergency.

Armenian authorities arrested 30 opposition supporters Tuesday on charges of provoking unrest and violent actions against police in the demonstrations that left eight people dead.

Protesters accused the government of rigging the presidential poll to ensure that Serzh Sarkisyan -- the candidate Mr. Kocharian supported -- defeated opposition challengers. Official figures show Mr. Sarkisyan winning 53 percent of the vote, while his nearest challenger garnered about 22 percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.