YEREVAN -- Protesters in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, campaigning against electricity price hikes have issued new demands to authorities.
They say if their demands are not met, authorities will face a so-called “one-step forward” campaign, meaning that they will start moving forward their makeshift barricades closer to the presidential administration building every night their demands remain unanswered.
Addressing several thousand demonstrators on Baghramian Avenue on the evening on July 4, Davit Sanasarian, one of the coordinators of the protest, announced that the protest that has blocked the central Yerevan thoroughfare for nearly two weeks is entering the “decisive stage.”
He again listed the three demands of the protesters to President Serzh Sarkisian as he addressed the crowd: to revoke the June 17 decision of the Public Services Regulatory Commission to raise electricity prices by over 16 percent; to punish the police officers who ordered and committed violence against protesters and journalists on June 23; and to lower current electricity tariffs.
Earlier on July 4, Armenian police cautioned the protesters against following the calls for moving barricades forward or other “provocative actions” like putting up tents or blocking other streets.
Sanasarian said that despite some rifts, the demonstrators have so far been able to hold their ground on the country’s main political avenue where the buildings of the Constitutional Court, the National Assembly, and the Presidential Palace are located.
“We are not going to unblock the avenue…Beginning on Monday, if the authorities do not comply with our demands, every night we will start moving our barricades one step forward,” Sanasarian stated, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd.
The protesters have used about four dozen dumpsters to barricade themselves from the police, who used water cannons to disperse their peaceful sit-in on June 23.
About two dozen people, including police, were reportedly injured in the unrest on June 23, with more than 230 protesters and some journalists briefly detained.
After that crackdown, Armenian demonstrators turned out in even larger numbers and blocked the boulevard permanently later that night.