Armenia's parliament declared a state of emergency Wednesday and banned the largest armed group in the southern Soviet republic after overnight battles that killed up to six people, including a parliamentary deputy. The Soviet news agency Tass quoted Armenia's new nationalist president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, as saying parliament had started negotiations with the Armenian National Army (ANA). But a spokesman for the banned group denied talks were taking place.
The parliament earlier voted 170 to 0 to outlaw the ANA, giving the militants a 10 p.m. deadline to give up their arms and abandon their heavily fortified headquarters in Yerevan. The ANA had responded to parliament's move by refusing to surrender its weapons and calling for negotiations.
Mr. Ter-Petrosyan said Yerevan was surrounded by Armenian Interior Ministry troops to keep militants out of the city, Tass reported.
The parliament also imposed a 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew and banned demonstrations after parliamentarian Viktor Aivazyan was shot dead outside ANA headquarters as he tried to start talks between warring groups. Ter-Petrosyan issued a decree dismissing the republic's interior minister, Levon Galstyan, the Armenpress news agency reported.
Ter-Petrosyan, the main architect of Armenia's sovereignty declaration last week, met Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev this month to discuss the proliferation of armed groups in the republic.
In July Mr. Gorbachev ordered all paramilitary groups disarmed within 15 days, but after assurances from Ter-Petrosyan that Armenian authorities could control the situation, Gorbachev extended the deadline for two months.