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Armenian Police Threaten to Forcibly Disperse Protest, People Refuse to Leave (Updated)

11:35 PM The US Embassy in Armenia commented on the events in the Armenian capital on Twitter: "Concerned by tense situation downtown. Urge all sides to display peaceful, restrained behavior befitting democratic values."

10:45 PM Thousands of protesters remain on Baghramyan Avenue. Tensions are running high, but there is still no contact between demonstrators and law enforcement officers. Police have given protesters until 11 PM to leave the avenue; otherwise, they have promised to forcefully disperse the crowd.

10:10 PM Valery Osipyan announced police have found explosive materials on Baghramyan Avenue; however, the Deputy Police Chief did not specify the type of explosives, nor did he say who they were found on.

9:45 PM Hundreds of law enforcement officers have formed a human wall around the demonstration site; Epress.am correspondent is reporting that police have blocked all the major roads leading to Baghramyan Avenue.  

8:40 PM DeputyYerevan Police Chief Valery Osipyan announced there are provocateurs among the demonstrators; he urged urged the protesters "to stop the illegal sit-in," promising to otherwise disperse the protest. Osipyan also said that people were not allowed to stage a protest after 11 PM.

Those who remain on Baghramyan Avenue on June 28 will be forcibly dispersed, RA Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan announced during the rally on central Yerevan avenue on Sunday, stating that “this time police will be more severe.”

Thousands rallied again in the Armenian capital on Sunday, after “No to Robbery” civic initiative members urged people to assemble on Marshal Baghramyan Avenue at 6 PM on June 28 in order to develop a further action plan and determine a response to Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan’s statement, according to which the RA government would subsidize the cost of electricity rate hike, leaving the tariff unchanged for consumers until an international audit of the national electricity distribution company “Electric Networks of Armenia” was completed.

At the beginning of the rally, one of the “No to Robbery” leaders Vaghinak Shushanyan suggested to move the protest to the Freedom Square in central Yerevan. However, demonstrators answered him with shouts of “Shame!” and “On Baghramyan!”

Hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered in the city center ahead of the rally, blocking some of the main roads leading to the protest site.

After people refused to leave the avenue, Yerevan Deputy Police Chief Valery Osipyan advised the protesters to immediately clear the area and go to the square. He also urged media representatives to leave and not complain later of “excessive police use of force.” 

As of 8:30 PM local time, demonstrators are refusing to leave; many are sitting on the ground. Police, who have moved closer to the protesters, have seized their microphones, and the people are unable to communicate.