Armenia launches probe over mass protests against rising energy prices
MOSCOW, June 23 (RAPSI) - Armenian Prosecutor General’s Office launched a criminal investigation into mass protests held in capital Yerevan over a decision to increase electricity prices, RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday.
According to preliminary reports, the police detained some 237 protesters. Seven of them needed medical help, three were hospitalized. Eleven police officers were reportedly injured.
The Prosecutor General’s Office told RIA Novosti that the criminal case was opened under Article 258 Part 1 of the Armenian Criminal Code (disorderly conduct, public disorder) punishable by a fine of up to $100 or up to 12 months in jail.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has released a statement on the detention of the activists. “Starting at 7 pm (6.30 pm Moscow time) on Monday, a group of individuals organized an unlawful protest, a march and then a sitting protest on Marshal Baghramyan Avenue in Yerevan, thus blocking traffic and violating the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of movement, and intentionally disturbing public order,” the statement says.
The case was forwarded to the Investigative Committee for preliminary investigation. The Investigative Committee assigned a team of 20 investigators.
The Prosecutor General’s Office reports that the scene of the incident has been examined. Forty people were detained and interviewed by investigators; some are still being interviewed. A forensic examination and other expert reviews will be carried out. An inquiry has been sent to the Yerevan Mayor’s Office, along with instructions for the police.
On Monday evening, the protesters, who had been on a three-day strike since June 19 on Freedom Square, marched to the presidential administration building. However, they were stopped by police at Marshal Baghramyan Avenue. The police cordoned off the area and placed water cannons within one hundred meters of the presidential administration building.
Hours earlier, the police had notified the protestors that the police have the right to use force against the offenders. The statement stressed that unless police orders were followed or if there was any resistance, the march would no longer be seen as peaceful and would be dispersed according to the law.