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VIDEO: Women Occupy Kiosks in Mashtots Park

On Mar. 8, International Women’s Day, a group of female activists broke through the barricades surrounding kiosks in a downtown Yerevan park and occupied one of the partially constructed kiosks. Note, activists have been coming to Mashtots Park nearly every day for over three weeks, protesting the construction of shops in one of the few remaining green spaces in the Armenian capital.

At 5:25 in the video, asked if police are going to intervene, Yerevan Deputy Police Chief Robert Melkonyan (better known under the nickname Bazaz) says: “Why should we intervene? What’s going on that we have to intervene? The barricades are there because construction is underway. We’re not [protecting] this construction or anything. Just that you’re doing a demonstration, us police are standing [here] so that there aren’t any sudden incidents.

“I don’t see that there’s some important establishment here that has to be preserved… there isn’t construction. Construction has been suspended, so there’s no problem.”

Asked that last time activists entered the kiosk police informed them they were acting illegally, Melkonyan responded that last time construction was going on and as per instructions from city hall they had to ensure construction continued.

“And we’re keeping public order as long as you have a demonstration so that no one bothers you and you demonstrate without hassles,” he added.

At the end of the clip (beginning from 6:38), the deputy police chief and fellow police officers can be seen handing out flowers to the women gathered on site. Though some women who are standing outside the kiosks can be seen accepting the flowers, those inside shake their heads, refusing the gifts, and instead chant “Demolition!”, requesting the removal of the barricades.

Eventually, police heed their call and remove the barricades.