Armenian Leader Criticized in U.S.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, who recently returned from Armenia, sharply condemned a government crackdown on protests following last month's presidential election.

Bryza also raised concern about the recent arrests of government opponents close to former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

The government declared a 20-day state of emergency on March 1 after clashes between protesters and police left eight people dead and dozens injured.

"The violence really was deplorable," Bryza said Monday. "It seems clear that the reaction by the government was harsh and brutal."

Following the Feb. 19 vote, election officials declared Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan the winner over Ter-Petrosyan, who appealed, claiming fraud, and organized protests. On Saturday, the Constitutional Court rejected the appeal.