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Armenia Launches Probe Into Police Violence Against Protesters

Armenian authorities have launched a criminal investigation into police officers involved in a crackdown on demonstrators protesting against electricity price hikes.

The Special Investigation Service said on July 3 the inquiry had been opened into alleged police violence, abuse of power, and obstructing journalists.

Central Yerevan has been rattled by two weeks of protests over plans to increase electricity prices by 16 percent from August.

On June 23, hundreds of riot police moved in against protesters using batons and water cannons.

According to investigators, police officers exceeded their powers, used violence against demonstrators and journalists, and "inflicted significant damage on the legitimate interests of society and the state."

The rallies in Yerevan have dwindled since President Serzh Sarkisian announced last week the government would temporarily "bear the burden" of the higher prices pending an audit of Armenia's power distribution company.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS