Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   22 January

YPD officers attempt to avoid escalation, call on protesters to maintain law and order

YEREVAN, APRIL 22, ARMENPRESS. Yerevan Police Department (YPD) is using loudspeakers at demonstration locations addressing citizens to adhere to the law.

Officers are detaining protesters who fail to comply.

A crowd of protesters are marching through the city streets and the Republic Square.

49 people have been detained as of 13:00, police said.

Earlier police had released a statement, saying they are entitled to disperse the rally because the demonstrators are violating public order and endangering public safety.

Yerevan police (YPD) have dispersed a rally midday on Sunday in the city’s Erebuni district under Article 33 of the law on freedom of assembly.

Initiators of the rally – opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan, MP Ararat Mirzoyan and MP Sasun Michaelyan, have been removed from the location of the rally by police officers, police said.

Earlier today, the meeting between Armenia’s Prime Minister and opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the ongoing demonstrations, lasted only a few minutes.

The anticipated meeting took place in the Marriott Hotel in Republic Square of Yerevan, the main rally site where every evening demonstrators gather to protest.

The Prime Minister arrived without a tie, while the opposition MP was wearing his usual t-shirt and hat.

As expected, both the Prime Minister and the lawmaker arrived at the hotel at 10:00.

The meeting was held in the presence of numerous reporters who were broadcasting live.

“I am happy that you responded to my numerous calls to talk. Although I don’t quite imagine how long we can negotiate in the presence of dozens of reporters, nevertheless I am happy”, the Prime Minister said at the beginning.

MP Nikol Pashinyan responded by saying that there is a misunderstanding and that he has come to discuss the PM’s resignation and peaceful transfer of power, rather than for dialogue.

“That’s not negotiations, that’s not a dialogue. That is simply an ultimatum, blackmailing the state and legitimate authorities. You do not realize the degree of responsibility, you didn’t learn lessons from March 1 [2008]. And if we have to speak in that tone, then I am only left to once again advice you to return to the legal area and overall the limits of reasonable actions. Otherwise the entire responsibility falls on you,” Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan said.

Pashinyan reacted by saying that the situation in Armenia has changed and the power has transitioned to the people.

“A 7-8% parliamentary faction doesn’t have the right to speak on behalf of the people. And I don’t want to continue this conveersaton with you anymore. If you do not accept the lawful demand of the state, goodbye,” PM Sargsyan said and walked out on the opposition lawmaker.

Before departing, the Prime Minister addressed reporters, saying : “Dear reporters, you yourselves can make conclusions”.

After the meeting, Pashinyan resumed marching in the streets of Yerevan, while many began to call for another meeting and dialogue.

English –translator/editor: Stepan Kocharyan

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