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Disorder and Confusion in Downtown Yerevan; Opposition Leaders Urge Supporters to Stay Away from Provocations

12:15am: Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan went live on Facebook to comment on the incident: “There are some events currently happening on Mashtots Avenue. I said in my speech at the rally that a number of Republican [Party] groups had formed criminal groups whose purpose was to create grounds for the use of force against the people. I am convinced the disorder in downtown Yerevan was provoked by these groups.

“I said at the rally that supporters of a violent struggle do not belong with our movement. If there are citizens who accidetally happened to be at the scene, I urge you all to leave immediately, because this is a provocation organized by Serzh Sargsyan and his group. This has nothing to do with our nonviolent velvet revolution.”

A group of suspiciously aggressive young men started unexpectedly breaking ad stands and traffic lights late on Tuesday at the Mashtots-Tumanyan intersection in downtown Yerevan. They tried to pick fights with passersby and reporters filming the incident. Some of them fled the scene when they heard police cars approaching; others went ahead cussing at everyone aggressively and randomly and at some point tried to create an imitation of blocking the street. They subsequently clashed with the officers who had arrived at the scene.

12:05am: Journalists, public observers and human rights defender Avetik Ishkhanyan have arrived at the Mashtots-Tumanyan intersection. The situation has calmed down.

11:58pm: Reject Serzh initiative member Davit Sanasaryan writes on his Facebook page: “What happened near Opera was a provocation that we’d known beforehand would happen. We urge all our supporters at the scene to leave the area.”

At around 11:50pm, our reporter witnessed several police officers approaching two young men standing next to a car by the SAS supermarket at Tumanyan street. The officers attacked the men, hit them and cursed at them, then made them get into the car and leave. The whole incident didn’t last 2 minutes.

11:45pm: A group of people remain at the Mashtots-Tumanyan intersection. Traffic, however, is not blocked and the situation is relatively calm, our correspondent reports from the scene.

Note, Nikol Pashinyan’s post-rally march had already ended and people had dispersed by the start of the disorder.