‘Electric Yerevan’ protesters dig in as tensions flare in Armenia
YEREVAN – Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoHundreds of protesters defied police on June 24 in the Armenian capital, ignoring a call to disperse and digging in for a new day of protests against electricity price hikes and police violence.
On June 24 more than 6,000 demonstrators rallied near the presidential palace and hundreds stayed for an overnight sit-in, blocking traffic on Yerevan’s main thoroughfare and defying a police ultimatum to disperse before the young hours of June 24.
Public anger has mounted over the government’s decision to hike power prices by over 16 percent from August 1 in the poor ex-Soviet country of 3.2 million, which has already been badly hit by the economic crisis in Russia.
The protests started on June 19 and gained momentum after hundreds of riot police moved in early on June 23 to forcefully break up a rally using water cannon, in the most serious confrontation between protesters and police in the past few years.
Police beat up journalists and detained nearly 240 people, but protesters took to the streets for a new protest Tuesday evening.
Supporters sought to prevent a repeat of clashes, with opposition lawmakers and local celebrities forming a human chain between riot police and the demonstrators overnight.
The protest hashtag #ElectricYerevan was gaining traction on Twitter, with supporters taking to social networks to buttress the campaign.