Yerevan police restore traffic in downtown street as demonstrators continue marching
YEREVAN, APRIL 20, ARMENPRESS. As opposition demonstrators led by opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan continue marching in Yerevan’s Davitashen dictrict – about 15 minutes of driving distance from downtown – another crowd of protesters attempted to block the Alek Manukyan Street in the central part of the city.
Police officers cleared the street and cordoned off the sidewalks.
Several demonstrators have been detained and shortly afterwards traffic was restored.
Earlier Yerevan police issued a statement saying law enforcement agencies are willing to assist the holding of peaceful rallies in locations where the demonstrations will not restrict the rights and freedoms of others. Police called on the illegal demonstrators to refrain from obstructing on-duty officers and adhere to their obligations as initiators of a rally.
Opposition protests began in the Armenian capital of Yerevan a week ago.
The rallies are led by opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan, who has called on his supporters to launch civil disobedience.
The rallies began with a sit-in at France Square in downtown Yerevan, followed by sporadic marches in the city streets. The protesters even began blocking intersections and shutting down traffic. The situation escalated when the crowd of protesters and MP Pashinyan himself breached into the headquarters of Public Radio of Armenia, demanding airtime on April 14.
Then on April 16, protesters and riot police clashed in a brief incident on Baghramyan Avenue – one of the main city streets housing the parliament, Constitutional Court and the Prime Minister’s residence. The Yerevan Police Department (YPD) has called on the opposition crowd to refrain from illegal actions and to maintain public order.
YPD said they are entitled to detain protesters who are violating public order and to cease the illegal rally, because the demonstrations are violating the rights of others and endangering public safety.
The protesters largely ignored the YPD demands and continued the rally, initiating sit-ins outside governmental buildings, blocking traffic, obstructing public service staff from entering their offices, even deflating tires of official vehicles parked outside ministries.
About 100 demonstrators were detained for misdemeanors on April 19. Several others have been placed under arrest for causing a brief riot earlier in central Yerevan.
English –translator/editor: Stepan Kocharyan