Accessibility links

Armenian Police Dismantle Barricades, Remove Protesters From Avenue

  • RFE/RL's Armenian Service

Armenian police have removed protesters from an avenue in central Yerevan occupied for two weeks by demonstrators protesting against electricity price hikes.

Police dismantled barricades and physically removed protesters from Baghramian Avenue on July 6.

Police also briefly detained more than 40 demonstrators who refused to disperse.

Traffic has reopened along the avenue.

Tussles were reported between demonstrators and police, but there was no major violence.

Police took action after leaders of the "Electric Yerevan" protest movement threatened to move forward their barricade to President Serzh Sarkisian’s office.

The protest organizers called on supporters to gather in the evening on July 6 on nearby Liberty Square but fewer than 1,000 people turned up.

Police that outnumbered protesters, allowed demonstrations to be held on the square, where they don't disrupt traffic, but they appeared determined to prevent the protesters from taking to the streets again.

Protesters have demanded Sarkisian revoke the June 17 decision of the Public Services Regulatory Commission to raise electricity prices by over 16 percent from August, to punish the police officers who allegedly ordered and committed violence against protesters and journalists on June 23, and to lower current electricity tariffs.

In a bid to appease the protesters, Sarkisian announced last month that the government would temporarily "bear the burden" of the price hike.

Sarkisian also said the increase, which initially had been scheduled to take effect on August 1, would be postponed while the government assessed whether it was really necessary.

But the president's concession was dismissed by the protesters as inadequate.

At the protest movement's peak, over 10,000 people took to the streets in the biggest antigovernment demonstration seen in Armenia in years.

Armenia, a close ally of Moscow, has been hit hard by the economic crisis in Russia brought on by falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine.

With reporting by AFP and AP