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Several Detained, Two Injured in Protest Rally Against Electricity Price Hike

A couple of individuals were seriously injured and several people were detained by police during a protest demonstration against the electricity price hike earlier today. 

During the demonstration organized by an initiative called "Protection of Workers' Rights" outside the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) earlier this afternoon, members of the initiative urged the Armenian public not to pay their electricity bills beginning on August 1.

Recall, the Commission decided to save electricity companies that are suffering financially by adopting a decision to raise the price of consumer electricity by 3.5 to 4 Armenian drams per kWh. Currently, the rate is 38 AMD per kWh.

Protestors held signs with such inscriptions as "Forgive us, we also owe the banks", "When will you be satisfied?", "Let's put an end to tax collection from nomadic aggressors" and "My money printing machine broke!"

Law enforcement officials used force against protestors who tried to approach the entrance to the building. They rudely pushed the demonstrators aside, who began to chant, "You also have to pay!" and "Free, independent police!"

One of the protestors holding an Armenian flag in his hand broke through the chain of police officers, approached the building entrance, and shouted: "[PSRC Chair] Mr. Nazaryan, come out!" Police then detained two activists, using force to get them into the police vehicle, but activists surrounded the car and didn't allow it to move, shouting, "Freedom! Freedom!"

The Epress.am correspondent on the scene reported that residents in the nearby apartment buildings were pouring water from buckets on police officers' heads. 

Police were later able to open the road to get their vehicle with the two detainees through. Apart from the two detainees, police later detained an additional 3 people, one of whom is Armenian National Congress activist Areg Gevorgyan. 

In the process of clearing the road, police officers applied force against the activists who blocked Saryan St. for a short while. As reported by the Epress.am correspondent on the scene, a roughly 25-year-old young man who received a blow to his chest and an elderly man, who had heart problems, were injured during the clashes. Both were taken to hospital. 

Yerevan Deputy Police Chief Valeriy Osipyan who arrived on the scene told reporters that in some cases police officers can use force, if activists "do not submit to their lawful demands." One of those present strongly urged Osipyan to think about his nephew, who is connected to a recent stabbing incident. 

The deputy police chief replied that if his nephew's guilt is proven, he will personally send him to serve his punishment.