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Occupy Mashtots Park Activists to Begin Sit-In Amid Police Warnings

Environmental and civic activists who have been coming nearly every day for almost a month to Mashtots Park to protest the construction of shops say they will begin a round-the-clock sit-in in the central Yerevan park.

Recall, the shops were dismantled on Abovyan St. and moved to Mashtots Park where city officials say they will remain for 3 years (till the end of the city’s 10-year contract with shop owners). Activists, however, continue to protest their construction in one of the few remaining green spaces in the downtown core.

On a statement published on their Facebook page, Mashtots Park activists say they give city authorities until Mar. 16 to demolish the partially constructed shops.

Asked by Epress.am what they’ll do if the deadline is not met, activist Ruzanna Grigoryan said they intend to dismantle the kiosks with their own hands.

Responding to the environmentalists’ statements, Armenia’s police force issued a statement of its own, warning activists and reminding them that seizing anyone else’s private property is a gross violation of the law, which can be considered nothing other than taking the law into one’s own hands.

“Moreover, the illegal demolition of the pavilions inevitably will cause a considerable amount of damage to property owned by persons, which is a crime according to RA Criminal Code Article 185 (“willful destruction or destroying of property”), which those guilty of inevitably will be subject to criminal responsibility,” reads the police statement.

Note, those found guilty according to this criminal code article may be punished with a fine in the amount of 50 to 100 minimal salaries, or correctional labor for up to 1 year, or with arrest for a term of up to 2 months, or with imprisonment for the term of up to 2 years. The police also caution that holding rallies with the aim of the illegal, “rebellious” demolition of pavilions doesn’t defend the right to freedom of assembly by law. Police urge the public to refrain from such actions and not heed any calls inciting illegal actions.