YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenian police clashed with protesters angered by energy price hikes in Yerevan on September 1. Leaders of the protest group called “No To Plunder” accuse the government of reneging on a pledge to subsidize energy costs — a promise made after mass protests in June. Police detained five activists, including Maxim Sargsian, one of the leaders of the June demonstrations.
About a hundred youth activists scuffled with riot police as they tried unsuccessfully to block a central section of Marshal Bagramian Avenue opposite President Serzh Sarkisian’s official residence after rallying in a nearby public park.
The group, which provoked a two-week nonstop demonstration in Yerevan in June, decided to resume its campaign of “civil disobedience” after the Armenian government made clear that it will subsidize the electricity price only for households and some small businesses.
No To Plunder claims this runs counter to Sarkisian’s June announcement that the government will bear “the full burden” of the more than 17 percent rise in energy tariffs pending an international audit of Armenia’s power distribution network. It demanded on Tuesday that the Armenian authorities formally and fully annul the price hike.
The police detained six protesters, among them two No To Plunder leaders, after twice unblocking the busy street section adjacent to the presidential palace. All of them were set free and rejoined the protest confined to the street sidewalks a few hours later.
No To Plunder leaders announced there that they will hold a rally in the city’s Liberty Square on September 11 as part of what they called a “second phase of the active struggle” against the unpopular measure. They gave no other details of the campaign.