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Armenian Police Block Road Toward Presidential Palace as Citizens March Against Hike in Electricity Tariff

On Monday, June 22, thousands of Armenian citizens took to the streets of Yerevan in a march against the latest hike in electricity prices in Armenia. Note, hundreds of protesters have been staging a protest sit-in at the Freedom Square in central Yerevan for the last 3 days, warning they would march towards the RA Presidential Residence on Baghramyan 26 if the decision of the RA Public Services Regulatory Commission to increase electricity tariff in Armenia by nearly 7 drams was not reversed by 7 PM, June 22.

At the start of the march, Yerevan Deputy Police Chief Valeriy Osipyan urged the marchers not to move towards the president's office, stating the police would do their best to maintain public order within “permitted limits.”

However, the protesters, chanting "Free, Independent Armenia!", “Police, join us!” continued the march up Baghramyan Avenue, where hundreds of armed police officers, forming a barricade, closed the road toward Baghramyan 26, not allowing demonstrators to get closer to the presidential palace. Protesters then sat in the middle of the road at the intersection of Baghramyan and Isahakyan streets, staging an impromptu sit-in.

Shortly after, Yerevan Police Chief Ashot Karapetyan came out to the protesters, stating president Serzh Sargsyan was willing to receive a delegation of 3-5 people and hear their demands. The protesters, however, declared they had no need to meet the president, nor did they want to negotiate or discuss anything: they would leave and call off the protest action only if the decision to increase electricity tariff was reversed. 

As of 9 PM, traffic on Baghramyan Avenue is blocked, and thousands of protesters are staging a sit-in along the entire length of the road.

Note, police have several water cannons and armored fighting vehicles at their disposal; Deputy Yerevan Police Chief Osipyan has declared the protest action was illegal and unsanctioned, and warned law enforcement would carry out special operations and use force to disperse the crowd, if need be.