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YEREVAN, September 1. /TASS/. Yerevan’s Marshal Bagramian Avenue is a scene of confrontation between protest demonstrators and police again. The current demonstration is being held by the civil initiative group calling itself No to Robbery! This group blocked the same street last June only to curtail political activity after a split among the protesters.
This time some 200 activists gathered in a park to discuss their tasks. The demonstrators are demanding cancellation of the August 1 electricity price hikes and a probe into the operations of Armenia’s electric power grids company - an affiliate of Russia’s Inter RAO.
Police have lined up in front of the demonstrators in an attempt to keep them off the road. Traffic is already slow-going. Road police have been trying ensure the free passage for motor vehicles.
Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan is currently out of Yerevan. He is in Stepanakert "for ceremonies on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic," the presidential office said. The demonstrators claim that the auditing of Armenia’s power grids company the authorities have declared is a phoney and electricity price hikes are illegal.
The police have taken a group of activists to a police station. The protestors are now demanding their release and warn they may block the avenue to traffic altogether.
As the deputy chief of Yerevan’s police force, Colonel Valery Osipian said, "it is impermissible to use the language of ultimatums in contacts with the law enforcers."
"Anyone who will try to violate public order will go to a police station," he warned.
The authorities claim that today’s demonstration is illegal, because it had not been authorized by the mayor’s office and not a single action by its participants fit in with the law."
"The organizers have exhausted all measures and are now trying to artificially provoke a brawl with police. The law enforcers will not yield to provocations," Osipian said.