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YEREVAN, July 3. /TASS/. Street protesters will continue their rally in Armenia’s capital Yerevan as authorities have been unable to satisfy their demands, the coordinators of an initiative group have said.
The group was formed on the central Baghramyan Avenue, which has been blocked for more than a week, after the "No to Robbery!" movement decided to stop the protests on the city streets.
"It is evident that the people’s demands have not been satisfied today. That’s why the fight and the nationwide protest against the increase in electricity tariffs continue," the members of the group said.
The coordinators stress that the protest is "democratic" and is in line with the country’s constitution and the international law, warning against any speculation that it is politically motivated.
The key demands of the protesters are canceling the decision on the hike in electricity prices and lowering the respective tariffs, as well as punishment for "police officers who used violence against the participants of peaceful rallies and journalists."
Finally, the demonstrators demand "ending criminal persecution in regard to participants of the peaceful rallies taking place in Yerevan."
The activists have also stressed that they mistrust the authorities’ statement on holding an audit of the national electricity company and expect the respective agencies to clarify this.
The riots erupted after the state regulatory commission had agreed to raise public electricity tariffs by 16% at a meeting on June 17 upon the request of national electricity company Electric Networks of Armenia. The same day the protest began in downtown Yerevan. Similar protests were held in other major cities in Armenia on June 19.
The country’s opposition later took advantage of the situation and forced people into streets, what resulted in the dispersal of the Yerevan protests by police on June 23. As a result, 18 people, including 11 police officers, were hurt, and 237 people were detained but later released.
On June 27, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said that the government was ready to suspend the hike temporarily and cover the price rise out of state funds until the audit of the national electricity company was completed.
That split the protesters’ camp in two: those who accepted the government’s proposal moved to the Freedom Square outside the Yerevan opera theatre; the other half of more radically minded protesters who rejected the government concession pledged to continue the sit-in until all their demands were met.