Police Clash with Opposition Protesters

Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian falls on the street in a police initiated incident

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Riot police used force to stop opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian and thousands of his supporters from marching towards the presidential palace in Yerevan on Tuesday at the end of daylong protests against President Serzh Sarkisian’s inauguration for a second term.

Rows of security forces armed with shields and truncheons blocked a major street in the city center leading to Sarkisian’s residence to halt the unsanctioned march against the official results of the February 18 presidential election. They pushed back the crowd led by Hovannisian but did not disperse it despite scuffling with protesters for about 20 minutes.

Still, one of Hovannisian’s close associates, Armen Martirosian, was reportedly detained on the spot. The police did not immediately confirm this.

The police warned the crowd to turn back as it approached Marshal Bagramian Avenue from nearby Liberty Square. Hovannisian defied the warning, saying that he and his supporters only want to walk past the presidential offices to the Armenian Genocide Memorial on Tsitsernakabert Hill. “This is our street, our right, our constitution. I’m moving forward,” he said.

“Don’t create tension, Mr. Hovannisian,” General Nerses Nazarian, chief of the Yerevan police, replied before the security forces confronted the protesters.

Vladimir Gasparian, head of Armenia’s national police service, arrived at the scene moments later to negotiate with Hovannisian. The two men stepped aside to speak tête-à-tête. According to Nazarian, the opposition leader was offered to take another route to Tsitsernakabert.

Andreas Ghukasian, another former presidential candidate who also joined the protest, said afterwards that Hovannisian accepted the police offer and is now headed to the genocide memorial together with some of the protesters. He told several demonstrators remaining on the Marshal Bagramian Avenue section that he will stage a sit-in there and that they can join him.

A police official, meanwhile, again warned the remaining crowd to “sober up” and disperse.

Hovannisian also tried to approach the presidential palace with a small group of mostly young supporters earlier in the day. Several of them were detained as a result. A spokesman for the national police, Armen Malkhasian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that they were taken into custody for defying police orders. Some of the opposition youths were reportedly released in the evening.


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  2. Nareg said:

    If this is what it takes to remove Armenia’s shameful oligarch’s from power then we will stand side by side with Nakhakah Hovannisian.

    • Sarkis said:

      1) This is NOT about oligarchs, human rights or democracy. It is about installing a more pro-US puppet regime in Armenia, like they tried in Georgia with saakashvili and in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria. Raffi is being encouraged to lead a rebellion only because Armenia has good relations with Russian and the “dreaded” Iran.

      2) You will not stand behind anyone. You live in the US, a nation that’s bankrupt, a nation who’s financial and political processes are corrupt beyond repair, and a nation who is closely allied with its NATO partner turkey, to whom it has promised 100 brand new F-35 aircraft. Quasi-imperialism like this where Diasporan keyboard warriors and provocateurs are the main reason there is tension between Hayastantsis and Diaspora Armenians, because the Diaspora suffers none of the hardships of life in Armenia yet it protests to support installing an American dictator in Yerevan.

  3. Avetis said:

    Now that President Sargsyan has been sworn in and this “democracy” nonsense is over, Raffi should act like a man and stick to his promise of “over my dead body”. I want to see Raffi’s “diak”!

  4. Hagopian hagopian said:

    Where are our Armenian police equivelant of LAPD officer Stacey Koon and NYPD officer Justin Volpe? These demonstrations would have deen zipped in the butt a long time ago. I am very disappointed, for a minute I thought he was finally being man handled.
    I have watched Raffi, being touchy, feely, arrogant and disrespectful with his tone of voice while exchanging a conversation, any person in the states who would dare to address or touch or even defy an officer should not only be man handled a la Rodney King or Abner Louima.

    • Sarkis said:

      These keyboard revolutionaries live in an alternate reality where anything associated with Armenia is bad (so long as the men holding power in Yerevan is not favored by the men holding power in the West), and conversely America is perfect and incapable of doing any wrong

    • Artin said:

      So, your role model is US, right. OMG
      Let’s forget about our rich Aryan Civilization, as we have done for 1700, and stick to whatever comes, Ottoman or communism or liberalism or … .

  5. david said:

    I am really disapointed 1. by Raffi, 2. by comments left in this blog. What he is trying to do, bring more bloodshed to Yerevan; organizing a march to presiden palace in the day of inaguration when yerevan is full of foregn guest – this is receipy to disaster. Does he cares about lifes of his follower (similarly like Levon ter-petrosian cares about his follower 5 years ago)?

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  7. Andy said:

    Sevan, Hagopian, and other folks who are “sorry” for Raffi or were hoping that police would kick his and the rest of the people’s buttts – police does it every day, don’t worry. Come and live in Armenia, get the taste of life not as tourists but as residents and I’ll see how your song will change. Get robbed on a daily basis by corrupt officials who have a quota of bribes to deliver to Serge, get disrespected by police or any other scum just because they have power and you don’t – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Or stay where you are and write your idiotic comments, your “touchy, feely” bs. Raffi, not perfect at all, is standing up to these criminals, who are destroying our country. He is doing it in his own way, maybe not the way I want it. But he is doing it and for that he has our respect and support.
    Entire Armenia’s population is at least 4 times less than LA County’s. There is no reason we should be a beggar state. But we are because all the resources are feeding the select few, and you, morons sitting in the comforts of your cozy homes, have the audacity, have the chutzpah to support them and badmouth your own people who simply want to live without fear and hunger. Is that too much to ask for? No. But for Serge and his dogs it is too much to give. They are never satisfied with what they took from the people and will never be for as long as they have you to support them in their crimes.

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