More than 40 Activists Detained
YEREVAN—Police moved in on the Electric Yerevan protesters still remaining on Baghramyan Avenue on July 6, unblocking the road and arresting more than 40 activists in the process, reported RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Police also removed the barricade made of trash bins, and dispersed the crowd of around 200 protesters.
According to Ashot Aharonian, the chief police spokesman, none of those detained will be prosecuted or fined.
The crackdown, which did not employ batons or water cannons, took place in the early afternoon, ahead of the deadline of an ultimatum protesters had laid out, in which they vowed to move towards the presidential palace if authorities did not meet their demands.
Police urged the protesters to leave Baghramyan Avenue and move someplace else, such as Liberty Square, reported ArmeniaNow.
On July 3, authorities opened a probe into the violent crackdown of June 23, which drew condemnation from many, including the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, as well as international observers. In the early hours of June 23, police moved in on the protesters aided with water cannons. More than 230 protesters were arrested. The protesters did not fight back, and some were assaulted in the process, reported Azatutyun.am.
On June 28, activists from the “No to Plunder” movement, which organized the protests, rejected President Serge Sarkisian’s offer for a compromise, which included suspending the electricity price hike and subsidizing—at least until an international audit—the increased cost. President Sarkisian, however, said he was convinced the price hike was justified, and that the government would stop subsidizing the increase if the audit results indicated that the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) was innocent of any wrongdoing.
Maxim Sargsyan, a leader of the “No to Plunder” group, announced on June 29 that the sit-in at Liberty Square would not continue overnight. On June 28, the leaders of the group had urged protesters to move their demonstration to Liberty Square, to allow the reopening of the street to traffic. Although some protesters heeded the group’s appeal, many decided to stay on Baghramyan Avenue until the authorities met their demands.
On June 17, the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) of Armenia unanimously voted to raise energy tariffs in the country. Thousands of people gathered in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on the evening of June 19 to protest the government’s adoption of a 17-percent rise in electricity rates. What was initially slated as a march in the city center against the price hike turned into an unexpected mass sit-in.