Scores Arrested as Police Break Up Yerevan Protest

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—More than 230 people were arrested in downtown Yerevan early on Tuesday as riot police broke up an overnight demonstration against rising electricity prices in Armenia on a street leading to President Serge Sarkisian’s administration building.

Security forces, backed up by a powerful water cannon, used force to unblock Marshal Bagramian Avenue at the end of a 9-hour standoff with mostly young demonstrators demanding that the Armenian authorities revoke a more than 16-percent rise in the energy tariffs. Only a few hundred of them had remained camped out there by that time.

Security forces backed up by a powerful water cannon used force to unblock Marshal Bagramian Avenue at the end of a nine-hour standoff (Photo: Photolure)
Security forces, backed up by a powerful water cannon, used force to unblock Marshal Bagramian Avenue at the end of a nine-hour standoff (Photo: Photolure)

The protesters did not fight back, and were driven out of the street section at around 5:30 a.m. local time. Many of them were detained on the spot or moments later, when they were chased away to nearby Liberty Square, the starting point of the demonstration. Some were roughed up in the process.

Police officers, many of them wearing plain clothes, also manhandled and detained several reporters covering the protest. An RFE/RL correspondent was hit by one plainclothes officer as he tried to stop a group of policemen from arresting an RFE/RL cameraman who was filming the violent crackdown. His camera and other live-streaming equipment were smashed as a result.

Another RFE/RL reporter was attacked and had his mobile phone taken away and broken by a plainclothes officer during the dispersal of the crowd. He was using the phone to videotape the violence.

Citing “preliminary information,” a police spokesman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) later in the morning that as many as 237 people were detained during the crowd dispersal. He said 7 of the detainees as well as 11 policemen were injured in the violence.

As many as 237 people were detained during the crowd dispersal (Photo: Photolure)
As many as 237 people were detained during the crowd dispersal (Photo: Photolure)

The standoff began on Monday evening when several thousand protesters attempted to march to the presidential palace in Yerevan. They were stopped by rows of riot police and interior troops clad in full riot gear.

Throughout the night, senior officers led by Ashot Karapetian, the head of Yerevan’s police department, warned the protesters to unblock the streets or face a violent crackdown. They argued that the protest was not sanctioned by municipal authorities.

Most of the remaining protesters, who were led by a non-partisan pressure group called “No to Plunder,” decided to stay camped on the street. “No to Plunder” leaders also rejected Sarkisian’s offer to meet and discuss their demands. They said the president should simply ensure that Armenian utility regulators reverse what they considered to be unjustified price hikes.

 

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11 Comments

  1. The Yerevan police department’s suppression of peaceful mass protests, such as this one, is getting way out of hand. In this particular protest, a total of as many as 237 people were arrested, which would be a record for any single protest in Yerevan up to now. And not only did they suppress the protesters, but in addition, they also suppressed the reporters who were covering this particular protest. And now they’re using water canons to assist them even further in suppressing these peaceful mass protests? It’s going from bad to worse!

    • Don’t just sit there in East Hollywood: do something.
      Quick: go to Yerevan and take charge of the situation.
      Your people need you.

      btw: go and peacefully sit, with a few of your friends, in the middle of Vermont Ave, East Hollywood, weekday or weekend.
      Day or night.
      See how quickly LAPD shows up and orders yous to up and leave in 5 seconds.
      See how quickly LAPD arrests you and all your friends, if you hesitate to disperse in 10 seconds or less.
      And if anyone resists being forcibly removed, he or she will be savagely beaten by batons, possibly Tased, possibly pepper sprayed, and then hauled off to jail. If you touch a police officer during the scuffle, you might get shot. What happened ? “He tried to grab my gun”. “Case dismissed”: officer involved shooting within guidelines.
      Next case.

    • You’re in no position to tell me how to handle my business. Anyway, the brothers over in Yerevan are already doing a terrific job in handling the situation.

      “btw: go and peacefully sit with a few of your friends, in the middle of East Hollywood, weekday or weekend.” Actually, earlier this week, I happened to be peacefully hanging out with about twenty of my neighborhood brothers over by Hollywood and Normandie. As a matter of fact, during that entire period of time, we were all discussing the protests that are currently taking place in Yerevan. And as usual, a whole bunch of police cars cruised by up and down. There was even a police helicopter flying overhead. However, nobody ordered us to leave.

  2. I fear that this movement is being gradually co-opted by Western interests. If these protests resort to violence or vandalism I have absolutely no problems with law enforcement authorities using deadly force to restore law and order. Due to Yerevan’s complimentary politics there are large numbers of Western mercenaries waiting on the political sidelines in Armenia to take advantage of any political unrest. If the current government is somehow toppled, know that Uncle Sam’s servants will be the ones best positioned to snatch political power in Yerevan. Armenia is too vulnerable and too small to afford making the mistakes made by Serbians, Georgians and more recently Ukrainians. If it has to come to that, I would much rather Russians taking over Armenia. Armenians still seem incapable of effective/efficient self-governance. We have proven this throughout our history: Self-rule is simply not in our DNA. To develop the kind of DNA needed for effective self-governance we as a people will need centuries of peace and stability. Unfortunately for us, the south Caucasus is NOT the right place to expect any peace and stability. Let’s therefore pray for Pax Russicana.

    • Another typically foolish comment by one of the Kremlin’s representatives! Exactly how is it possible that these protests which are in response to the cruel 17 percent hike in electricity prices (this is the third year in a row that electicity prices have been increased) being subjected upon the citizens of Armenia by Sargsyan’s Russian-controlled regime are in any way connected to the West?

      “I would much rather Russia taking over Armenia.” Actually, Armenia is already fully controlled by Russia. Therefore, it’s Russia’s Mafioso kingpin, Putin, who controls the Republic of Armenia as opposed to his little butler, Serzh Sargsyan.

      “Armenians still seem incapable of effective/efficient self-governance.” Well, contrary to the false propaganda being discharged by the Kremlin, the Armenian people are very capable of effective/efficient self-governance, and even more capable than other groups of people for that matter.

  3. Avetis, friend, you need to ease up a little on constantly denigrating your own people and uncritically glorifying everything Russians do.
    We are no more so-called “self-destructive” peasants than the Russians or others.
    Russians are good people, and they have achieved much, but they have their faults too.
    And our Armenian DNA is just fine.
    We have been self-governing quite well since Independence, under most difficult conditions.
    There have been several attempts by various foreign interests, as you know, since Independence to induce Armenians to start killing each other in a civil war: so far neither the leaders nor the people have fallen for it. It is pretty competent self-governing as I see it.
    As you noted: is self rule in the DNA of Serbs (Slavs), Ukrainians (Slavs), or Georgians ?

    Yes, Russia (and Russian Empire) has provided the shield against Turkey: so nobody here questions our centuries long mutually beneficial friendship and strategic partnership.
    But let’s also agree that it is _mutually_ beneficial: with no independent, strong Armenia populated by Christian Armenians in Caucasus, Russia will eventually lose Caucasus, then it will lose Southern Russia, then possibly even the Volga region.

    And Russian self-governing DNA has some defects also:
     Russians allowed foreigners to take over their state in 1917, murder their Orthodox Christian Tsar and his entire family. Russian people blindly carried out the orders of foreigners to murder millions of their fellow Slavs.
     Russians allowed a paranoid psychopath foreigner and his foreigner henchman, Stalin/Beria, to murder to 1000s of their most experienced (Russian) military officers just before WW2. If not for the enormous population base and the endless landmass of USSR, Nazi Germany might have won the war and exterminated most Slavs. (Soviets defeated Nazis despite Stalin, and not because of him)
     Russians mismanaged USSR so badly that it fell apart of its own incompetence.
     They allowed one idiot (or a deep agent), Gorbachev, to just willy-nilly dismantle USSR, instead of a managed wind down. Makes no difference if he was an idiot or an agent: Russians (super majority of USSR) allowed him to throw away 70 years of whatever USSR had achieved. The idiot just took the word of the West that they would not expand into East Europe, instead of making sure. Now NATO is knocking at Russia’s front door. It is unthinkable that one man would be allowed to do such a thing in US.
     They elected an incompetent drunkard, Yeltsin, who allowed the wholesale looting of Russian national wealth to the tune of $100s of billions. Most of the stolen loot was taken out of Russia. Russia almost broke up under a leader who was elected by Russians who allegedly have better self-govern DNA than Armenians.
     Ethnic Russians supported a Chechen Muslim, Ruslan Khasbulatov, in his attempt to overthrow their ethnic kin, Yeltsin. This same Khasbulatov had promised Turkey he would allow Turks a, quote, “limited” incursion into Armenia if he won. Imagine that.
     Russian leadership completely botched the handling of Ukraine: how could they even allow it to come to this ? Russians allowed the heartland of their nation, Kievan Rus, to get to this. Slavs are killing each other, while Neocons who instigated it are sitting back and enjoying the show: and you think it is in the Slav DNA to self-govern and it isn’t in Armenians?

  4. Part2

    We lack only one thing: population numbers.
    That is something we as an Armenian Nation need to address: that is one thing which is 100% under our own control
    As to how we got into this situation is an interesting subject to study and understand. (aside from the AG).
    How did Russians/Slavs become so numerous and we didn’t ?
    Part of it is due to our own mismanagement: doing or not doing certain things at proper times in our history.
    But most of it was beyond our control.
    What would have happened if the Mongols who conquered and dominated Russia for 300 hundred years were the kind of invader who stayed and started exterminating Russians and forcibly converting them ?

    As to the present.

    Russia has done much for RoA since Independence, for mutual benefit.
    (yes, the Russian base in Gyumri is of benefit to Russia as well, not just Armenia: agree ?).

    But let’s also agree that Russian leaders take Armenia for granted.
    And they are too paranoid for their own good: they think if Armenia becomes stronger it will fly out of orbit.
    The only way Caucasus can be secure for Russia in the long term is for Armenia to become larger, more powerful, and more populous.

    This whole electricity price situation could have been avoided if Russia had given $5 billion-$10 to RoA to build a new NPP years ago.
    (in RoA the cheapest per KwH is the NPP, next is large Hydros, and most expensive is thermal)
    What’s the holdup ? $5-$10 billion is chump change for Russia.
    And why is Russia allowing the fake country of Azerbaijan to exist in the first place ?
    Why hasn’t Russia “arranged” for a border between RoA (NKR) and Russia ?
    I understand Russia is under assault and has a lot on her plate, but that is not going to change anytime soon.
    If Anglo-Americans were where Russia is and Armenia was their ally, there would have been a border between the two long ago, and Azerbaijan would have been broken up into statelets.
    They don’t care who says what: if it’s in their strategic interests, they do whatever they have to do. Russians are too timid.
    US is going around the world destroying countries in part to eliminate any potential threats to ally Israel.
    Azerbaijan is a long term danger to Russia herself, not just Armenia.
    Armenians could re-populate more regions of Artsakh if they had the funds to build settlements: why doesn’t Russia give a few hundred million to Armenia so they can do that ?

    And no, the solution to Armenia’s problems is not for Russia to take over Armenia: the solution is for Russia to do everything to ensure Armenia thrives. An uninterrupted Turkic/Islamic chain from Bosphorus to China under her vulnerable belly will doom Russia long term.

  5. Good points, Avery. My opinion is Russia has a lot of work and a lot of giving to do before I would say she is “Armenia’s best friend”. Russia is like any other power, she looks out for her interests, and that is pretty much it. I don’t share Avetis’ sentiments of “mother Russia” and that “Armenians need to close up shop and hand the keys to Russia before it’s too late”. Of course I think I prefer this as the ultimate last resort to a neocon/Turk takeover, but we are far away from that. I have a lot of faith in Armenia’s and Artsakh’s army, not to mention its extremely potent secret service.

    I was wondering about the Ukraine nonsense too, as to how patient Russia is behaving. I thought Ukraine would get the Georgia2008 treatment already, but maybe they know something they are not revealing. Or perhaps they are playing a Tigran Petrossian style chess game against the organized neocon anti-Russia, anti-Christian cabal.

  6. This is what I wrote:
    (Avery // June 24, 2015 at 5:14 pm //)
    {“ btw: go and peacefully sit, with a few of your friends, in the middle of Vermont Ave, East Hollywood, weekday or weekend.”}

    This is what you wrote:
    Yerevanian // June 25, 2015 at 8:07 am //
    { Actually, earlier this week, I happened to be peacefully hanging out with about twenty of my neighborhood brothers over by Hollywood and Normandie.”}

    Uuummm: I don’t how to say this, but…..well the idea was for you and 20 of your friends to go and sit in the _middle_ of “Vermont Ave”, not on some sidewalk in East Hollywood.
    On the street. Not on the sidewalk.
    Street: illegal.
    Sidewalk: legal.
    OK.

    Try it again: go and sit in the middle of the intersection of any of these:
    Vermont & Sunset.
    Vermont & Hollywood.
    Normandy & Hollywood.
    Not off the street, _on_ the street.
    Just like people in Yerevan are blocking Bagramian Ave.
    OK ?

    And then you’ll see if LAPD cruisers just drive by or stop and have a friendly talk with yous.

    • The ideas you come up with, are indeed foolish. Why would anybody desire to go and sit in the middle of Vermont Avenue while all those cars are coming and going? Where’s the logic in that? However, since you’re fascinated by all this, why don’t you try it for yourself.

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