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Armenia energy protests to culminate in sit-in at president’s palace, activists say

July 29, 2015, 21:06 UTC+3 YEREVAN
The riots in Armenia erupted in mid-June after the commission for regulation of the country’s public services agreed to increase public electricity tariffs by 16%
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© Karo Sahakyan/ PAN Photo via AP

YEREVAN, July 27. /TASS/. Protesters rallying against rising electricity prices will march on Thursday to the presidential palace on Marshall Bagramyan Avenue in central Yerevan, where they will stage an indefinite sit-in demanding that electricity tariffs remain the same, one of the leaders of the protest civic movement "Arise, Armenia" said late on Monday.

"This will be the peak of our actions," David Arutyunian said.

"Tomorrow evening we are readying surprises for the police and authorities," another activist of the protest movement, David Sanasaryan said without going into detail.

The riots in Armenia erupted in mid-June after the commission for regulation of the country’s public services 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.

People took to the streets, but the rally was dispersed by the police on June 23. As a result, 18 people, including 11 police officers, were hurt, and 237 people were detained but later released. However, protesters almost immediately resumed peacefull protests.

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 rather than increase customers’ bill until experts did not complete the audit of the Electric Networks of Armenia distribution company.

That split the protesters’ camp in two: those who accepted the government’s proposal moved to Freedom Square outside the Yerevan Opera Theatre; the other half of more radically minded protesters who rejected the government concession continued to stay on Marshal Bagramyan Avenue.

On June 29, protesters in a picket in Freedom Square made the decision to stop street protests, choosing "a new format of fight". On July 6, police cleared Marshal Bagramyan Avenue of barricades and protesters, after which protests moved to Freedom Square.

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