In the early hours on Tuesday, June 23, Armenian police launched a special operation to disperse the hundreds of citizens on Yerevan’s Baghramyan Avenue, protesting against the increase in electricity tariff. Law enforcement officers first used water cannons to push the demonstrators off the avenue, and then proceeded to beating the protesters with batons and other special equipment. Some protesters received bodily injuries, while many were taken to police stations.
Police, as reported by an Epress.am correspondent, pushed the demonstrators back to the area outside the Opera House (Freedom Square), attacking anyone who tried to take pictures or videotape what was happening. Many demonstrators were beaten by men in civilian clothes.
Epress.am operator Tigran Khachatryan’s camera was also broken by police, despite our correspondent claiming he was a journalist and was performing his professional duties.
Early on Tuesday, Yerevan Police Chief Ashot Karapetyan came out to talk to the demonstrators, urging them to return to Freedom Square and unblock the street. The protesters, however, refused, and after warnings that the protest action was “illegal and unsanctioned,” law enforcement launched a special operation at around 5:45 AM.
Late on Monday, after a three-day sit-in at Freedom Square in central Yerevan, protesters tried to march toward Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan’s office at 26 Baghramyan. However, hundreds of armed police officers, forming a barricade, closed the road, not allowing demonstrators to get any 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 outside the presidential office.