In the early morning hours of June 23, at approximately 5:30 AM, security forces in a heavy-handed operation, dispersed hundreds of citizens who had staged a sit-in on Baghramyan Avenue, one of the main roads in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, to protest electricity rate hikes.
According to Yerevan police, 237 people were detained – an unprecedented number in recent memory in the country.
After plainclothes officers and riot police, aided by water canons, had concluded their operation of removing the protesters from Baghramyan Avenue, a number of journalists were injured and detained, many had their equipment confiscated or damaged beyond repair – the memory cards of their cell phones were also removed.
As a result of police actions, a cameraman working for www.azatutyun.am was injured and their camera and live stream equipment damaged.
Mkrtich Karapetyan, a reporter for the daily newspaper Haykakan Jamanak was detained and taken to the Malatya police station by officers. Karapetyan said that his equipment was also damaged in the melee.
A journalist for Gala TV, Paylak Fahradyan, was also taken to Malatya police station. He told CivilNet that he had received injuries to his hands and neck.
Three reporters for www.1in.am – Karen Chilingiryan, Hovsep Hovsepyan, Kor Hovhannisyan — were subjected to a severe beating by police. The reporters claim that the order for their beating was given directly by the commander of the military police, Deputy Police Chief Levon Yeranosyan.
This video report shows zham.am reporter David Davidyan and cameraman Khachatur Yesayan being detained, including also panarmenian.net photojournalist Karo Sahakyan.
Cameraman for ACTV, Ashot Boyajian’s camera was also broken. Ani Hovhannisyan and Hrand Galstyan, reporters for Hetq.am were detained by police.
Tehmine Yenokyan of Lragir.am shared a report showing how plainclothes police officers were using sexual expletives while dragging protesters away.
Hakob Karapetyan of ilur.am wrote on his Facebook page about how he heard Deputy Police Chief Levon Yeranosyan ordering his subordinates to ‘hunt down’ reporters.
Media.am has collected a number of reports from social media platforms about how journalists were prevented from doing their job, beaten and their equipment damaged.
Citizens launched a three-day sit-in on June 19 at Liberty Square following a decision by the the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) to increase electricity tariffs by approximately 7AMD/kWh on June 17.
On the evening of June 22, after their demands were not met, the protesters marched to the Presidential Palace located on Baghramyan Avenue.
They were warned by Yerevan’s Deputy Police Chief Valeri Osipyan that their march was illegal and that they would be met by police resistance. Not heeding the Police Chief’s admonitions, the demonstrators began walking toward the Presidential Palace where they were met with riot police who had blocked Baghramyan.
Security forces were out in full force along with water canons and other machinery. Faced with the heavy police presence, organizers of the protest decided to continue their sit-in on Baghramyan Avenue.
The mass protest lasted till early morning when riot police began moving towards the crowd using water cannons and batons to disperse protesters. It appears that 237 people are currently being detained in different police stations throughout the city.