YEREVAN — Police in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, have clashed with dozens of protesters who tried to march to the presidential residence. Policemen used clubs to prevent the protester from marching from Mashtots Avenue to Baghramyan Avenue, particularly toward the Armenian president’s residence at 26 Baghramyan Avenue.
Law-enforcement officials say at least 20 protesters were arrested, including the leader of Armenia’s Tzseghakron (Race religion) party, Shant Harutiunian.
Harutiunian’s supporters marched along central Mashtots Avenue armed with wooden sticks, stones and homemade stun grenades and flares tried to march through the city center after a sit-in in Liberty Square organized by their leader. The protest swiftly descended into chaos as the crowd clashed with police officers as well as several plainclothes men standing in their way on Mashtots Avenue, one of Yerevan’s main thoroughfares.
Mashtots Avenue was cordoned off by police units. Officials said many police officers were injured in the clashes.
“The police managed to restore order and clean the street,’ the police said. The police reminded that for several days Shant Harutyunyan came out with statements in Liberty Square calling for violence.
“Law enforcement officers repeatedly told him to stop thoughtless behavior and calls for unlawful action. Today, police called on Harutyunyan and his supporters to refrain from unlawful acts, however, they refused to obey the lawful demands of the police, «the statement said.
First Vice-Chief of Armenia’s Police Hunan Poghosyan urged the people to leave Freedom Square. He said that a policeman received a knife wound during the clashes.
Activist Argishti Kiviryan said that about 20 people had been detained. According to him, it was a well-planned provocation by police. “What are more than 500 policemen doing in the center?”