YEREVAN. – Minutes ago, the police installed iron bars on Baghramian Avenue, in Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan, whereupon they reduced the number of police officers that have formed a human chain there (PHOTOS).
The Armenian News-NEWS.am reporter asked the Deputy Chief of Police Yerevan, Valeri Osipyan, why they were placing iron bars.
“For security; it’s a normal phenomenon,” Osipyan responded.
Baghramian Avenue is still closed.
The demonstrators, who are protesting the decision to raise the price of electricity in Armenia, do not agree to return to Liberty Square, and their number is growing.
The “No to Plunder” initiative had unexpectedly announced, during the June 19 rally against the increase in the price of electricity, that they were starting a three-day sit-in at Liberty Square in downtown capital city Yerevan, and giving the authorities deadline until 7pm Monday, June 22. They stated that if the electricity price-hike decision was not canceled by then, they will head towards the Office of the President, which is located on Baghramian Avenue. Once the deadline had expired, the demonstrators marched towards the avenue. The police, however, blocked Baghramian Avenue, and subsequently, a sit-in was staged on the avenue. On early Tuesday morning, however, the police dispersed the demonstration by using water cannon, and detained many activists and journalists, including an Armenian News-News.am reporter.
As a result of the clash, eighteen people sought medical assistance in hospitals, and 237 people were detained. A criminal case on charges of hooliganism has been launched.
On Tuesday evening, however, the sit-in participants marched toward the Office of the President yet again and with a larger crowd, and the police blocked their way again. This time MPs and representatives of show business also joined the ongoing protest action, and they formed a human wall between the police and the demonstrators. Some of them even spent the night at Baghramian Avenue.
Despite numerous protests, the Public Services Regulatory Commission increased the price of electricity in Armenia, and this decision will take effect on August 1. The decision, however, is expected to be followed by an increase in the prices of numerous products and services in the country.