Baghramyan v Opera?: Protesters in different venues urged to remain committed to single goal

After a week of their united struggle against rising electricity tariffs, President Serzh Sargsyan’s compromise plan and deployment of large police force in Baghramyan Avenue split the Electric Yerevan protesters into two groups.

Sargsyan said on Saturday that the government would subsidize the electricity price hike pending an international audit of Armenia’s power distribution company, which is a subsidiary company of Russia’s Inter RAO UES.

No To Plunder did not immediately react to the statement, but later they said they considered it to be an intermediate success, stressing that their campaign will go on.

On Sunday, members of the initiative, taking into account the Police warnings to unblock Baghramyan Avenue and the possibility of heavy-handed response from law-enforcement bodies decided to move to nearby Liberty Square. But a majority of protesters did not follow their call and remained stationed in the central Yerevan thoroughfare.

Since Sunday night the campaign against electricity price rise has been effectively split into two parts, some continue their protest in Baghramyan Avenue, others are in Liberty Square.

Many of the more radical protesters consider those in Liberty Square to be “traitors”. Meanwhile, government officials consider people in Liberty Square to be “bright personalities”.

Armenia’s Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan also said he personally guaranteed the security of those on the sit-in near the Opera House. Meanwhile, the Armenian Police see many provocateurs among protesters in Baghramyan Avenue. According to the police, they have deviated from the main purpose of the protest.

David Sanasaryan, a spokesman for the opposition Heritage party, thinks that the separation of the protest is a trap set up for the movement by the authorities trap.

To get out of this trap he suggests: “People who are in Liberty Square and Baghramyan avenue should announce that they are united and there is no struggle between them and that simply they have different strategies. People in Liberty Square should state right now that if there is an attack on people in Baghramyan Avenue they will immediately run towards them and if the Police manage to disperse the protesters, they will gather in Baghramyan as they did that day [on June 23],’’ Sanasaryan says.

Political analyst Armen Badalyan thinks that authorities have a great influence on those who are now in Liberty Square today.

“However, this is a political process without any parties with their own rules and if they do not stand the competition with their knowledge of political science then they are left out of the process, something which happened to the initiators. They thought about this process as not a political but a civil action,” Badalyan told ArmeniaNow.