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Armenian Police Clear Protest Site In Yerevan

  • RFE/RL's Armenian Service

Police in Yerevan used force early on September 12 to push scores of demonstrators out of a central street they were blocking to protest a recent electricity price hike.

A total of 48 activists were detained. They were charged with administrative violations and released shortly afterward.

The protesters, mostly young people, had occupied a section of the Marshal Baghramian Avenue leading to the presidential palace after their leaders accused the government of not fulfilling its pledge to fully subsidize the higher electricity costs.

No To Plunder, a youth group that organized the protest, demanded that authorities completely scrap the 17-percent price increase approved by the government in June.

The protesters were stopped by riot police at an avenue section that was the scene of a two-week standoff between protesters and police in late June and early July, in protests that were dubbed Electric Yerevan.

Police demanded that protesters clear the street, but the protesters instead staged a sit-in after failing to break the police cordon. Their leaders said they would stay put until their demands were met by the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian.

WATCH: Protesters Face Off With Police In Yerevan

After repeated warnings that the protest was "unlawful," police officers gave the demonstrators until 5 a.m. to leave the venue voluntarily or face action

Half an hour after the expiration of the "deadline," police launched their operation, breaking up the line of about 50 protesters who did not actively resist. The police then rounded up the demonstrators, pushing them to the sides of the avenue. It took the police about 15 minutes to remove all the demonstrators from the boulevard.

A police spokesman said the rally was "unlawful" because it had not been sanctioned by municipal authorities and therefore police were empowered to disperse it.

It remained unclear afterward whether activists of No To Plunder and other civic groups campaigning against the rise in electricity prices would protest any further during the day.