More than 200,000 people rallied in the Armenian capital of Yerevan to demand annexation of an Armenian enclave in neighboring Azerbaijan, and a strike Thursday paralyzed many of the city's industries, sources said.
People took to the streets Wednesday night after learning that Azerbaijan's government had overridden Nagorno-Karabakh's decision to secede and join Armenia, Khovik Vasilyan, an Armenian activist, said by telephone from Armenia."There will be another rally in Yerevan tonight, and the reaction of the Armenian people to Azerbaijan's impudent lie will become visible," said Vasilyan, a former political prisoner.
The Presidium of Azerbaijan's Supreme Soviet met Tuesday night, just a few hours after the secession declaration by Nagorno-Karabakh's legislature, and declared the regional parliament's decision illegal.
Soviet media did not announce the ruling until Wednesday.
Armenians have been agitating for five months for the transfer of Nagorno-Karabkh to Armenia, resisting authorities in Moscow and Azerbaijani officials, who oppose any change in the territorial status of the mountainous region of 160,000 people.
In February, 32 people died in ethnic rioting in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. Ethnic Armenians are predominantly Christian, most Azeris are Moslem.
Rem Ananikyan, deputy director of the official Armenpress news agency, said by telephone that more than 200,000 people gathered outside a Yerevan historical institute Wednesday night to call again for the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
"They demanded that this decision be solved, that the strike be continued," Ananikyan said.
He said Armenians expect the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the highest executive body in the Soviet goverment, to meet Monday in Moscow to consider the Nagorno-Karabakh question. No such meeting has been officially announced.