Baghramyan Blvd Breakup: Police clear protest site in central Yerevan

Armenian police used force on Saturday morning to push scores of demonstrators out of a central avenue that remained blocked for hours in protest against a recent electricity price hike.

Hundreds of protesters, most of them young people, had occupied a section of the Marshal Baghramyan Avenue leading to the presidential palace on September 11 evening after their leaders accused the government of not fulfilling its pledge to fully subsidize the rise in electricity tariffs.

No To Plunder, a civic group that organized the protest, demanded that the authorities revoke the decision on the 16-percent rate increase that the government approved in June, threatening a repeat of nonstop protests that took place in Baghramyan Avenue in late June and early July.

After repeated warnings that the protest was “unlawful”, police officers gave the demonstrators until 5 am to unblock the venue voluntarily or face action.

Half an hour after the expiry of the “deadline” police launched their operation, breaking up the line of about 50 protesters who did not actively resist. The police, who did not use batons, water cannons or other riot gear in their action, rounded up the demonstrators, pushing them to the sides of the avenue. In an operation that lasted for about 20 minutes all demonstrators were removed from the avenue section. More than a dozen protesters were taken to police stations. By 6 am traffic in Baghramyan Avenue was restored.

It remained unclear on Saturday morning whether activists of No To Plunder and other civic groups campaigning against the rise in electricity prices planned any more protests during the day. Earlier, their leaders said they would stage street protests until their demands were met by the administration of President Serzh Sargsyan.