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YEREVAN, September 12. /TASS/. Demonstrators who were protesting electricity price hikes in Armenia’s capital Yerevan last night repeatedly ignored police calls for unblocking Marshal Bagramian avenue, the Interior Ministry said in a news release.
"The street march towards the avenue ignored the procedures mandatory under the law on the freedom of assembly and utterly upset traffic in the street," the Interior Ministry said. "The organizers and participants ignored repeated police warnings they should leave the road meant for motor vehicles and kept one of the city’s main traffic arteries blocked."
On Friday evening police told the demonstrators they had six hours to let their demands known to fellow citizens.
"When the deadline expired at about 05:00 on September 12 police demanded the road be unblocked voluntarily within 30 minutes.
"It was impossible to prevent disproportionate violation of the constitutional rights of other citizens and society," the Interior Ministry said. The demonstrators were asked to either proceed with the protest on the pavement or move to the square in front of Yerevan’s opera theater.
The demonstrators were warned that "if the demands failed to be met within reasonable deadlines, the police will be forced to end the blockade by using all powers granted by the law." The picketers refused to obey. When the deadline expired the police took measures to end the avenue’s blockade.
"The worst law-breakers were taken to police stations," the statement runs. "Normal traffic in the avenue resumed by 06:00 (05:00 Moscow time).
Earlier, the deputy chairman of Yerevan’s police department, Colonel Valery Osipian, said the police measures against those who were disturbing public order were legal. He pointed out that by blocking the road the protesters "disproportionately restricted the freedom of movement of their fellow citizens and city residents".