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YEREVAN, July 14. /TASS/. Some 70 people marched in central Yerevan late on Tuesday demanding punishment for police officers who used force dispersing a rally on June 23.
The action started at the Moskva movie theatre where an international film festival is in progress, after which protesters walked along central streets of the Armenian capital accompanied by police. On their way to Republic Square they suddenly sat down on the road to block traffic.
Protesters were holding photos of police leadership turned upside down with inscriptions demanding punishment. "We don’t believe that police officers who used force against protesters will sustain due punishment," said one of the protest leaders, Maxim Sarkisyan.
Colonel Valery Osipyan, deputy head of the Yerevan police department, warned the protesters, saying their action was illegal and accusing them of trying to attract attention by an illegal action and seeking to trigger clashes with police.
The sit-in ended when riot police arrived to the site. Protesters moved to the Armenian General Prosecutor’s Office to hand over a petition that demanded punishment guarantees. After that they dispersed, saying the deadline for the demand was ten days.
The riots erupted after the Commission for regulation of the country’s public services had agreed to increase public electricity tariffs by 16% to meet the request received from CJSC "Electric Networks of Armenia" distribution company.
The measure which is to take effect on August 1 caused a wave of indignation among ordinary Armenians who assumed that the electricity price hike would automatically increase prices for essentials and many services.
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.