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Armenian President Pledges to Ease State of Emergency

Armenian President Robert Kocharian has pledged to ease a state of emergency imposed earlier this month after opposition protests led to violent clashes with police.

The Armenian leader said he will soon sign a decree easing the restrictions, including those on the news media.

Mr. Kocharian imposed a 20-day state of emergency in the capital, Yerevan, March 1 after clashes between riot police and protesters killed eight people and wounded 131.

Opposition leaders charge voting in last month's presidential election was rigged in favor of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan, who won a landslide against former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, in an interview with VOA Armenian Service, blamed both sides for the violence, which he called tragic. The U.S. official, who recently returned from Armenia, said the United States is trying to get the democratic process in Armenia back on track.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.