Protest Turns Explosive in Yerevan

Protesters clash with Armenian police on Tuesday

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—An Armenian opposition activist and more than three dozen of his supporters were detained in downtown Yerevan on Tuesday in violent clashes with riot police that followed what he called an attempt to carry out an anti-government “revolution.”

The several dozen protesters 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, Shant Harutiunian. 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. Traffic through the street was blocked as a result.

Seeking to break the police cordon, the protesters used sticks and set off the deafening explosives that caused heavy smoke. Security forces were able to contain and disperse the aggressive crowd only after calling in police reinforcements. Helped by special police units, they made scores of arrests in the process.

The first deputy chief of the Armenia police, Hunan Poghosian, and the head of Yerevan’s police department, Ashot Karapetian, personally oversaw the operation at the scene. A police statement issued later in the day said that 37 “delinquent” individuals, including Harutiunian, were taken into custody. It said several policemen were injured in the clashes but gave no details.

The statement blamed Harutiunian for the violence. It said that the veteran activist, known for his hardline nationalist rhetoric in the past, was repeatedly warned by the police in recent days to “discontinue his imprudent behavior and calls for illegal actions.”

Harutiunian, who is not affiliated with any major political party, moved into Liberty Square with a group of his supporters late last week. He declared that they are launching a “revolution” aimed at bringing down Armenia’s current leadership denounced by him as corrupt and undemocratic.

“We have no weapons yet other than Molotov cocktails, sticks, stones and magnesium [flash] bombs,” Harutiunian told journalists moments before the incident. “If they use firearms against us, those of us who stay alive will fight against them with assault rifles. We, revolutionaries, do not want bloodshed.”

Harutiunian also claimed that there are government “provocateurs” in the crowd led by him.

Harutiunian has been active on the Armenian political scene for more than two decades, occasionally holding rallies and making flamboyant statements. He unexpectedly became one of the main speakers at a fateful March 1-2, 2008 rally in central Yerevan that followed the breakup of post-election demonstrations held by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian in the wake of a disputed presidential election. The rally ended after vicious overnight clashes between opposition supporters and security forces which left ten people dead.

Harutiunian joined the 2008 protest despite not being formally affiliated with Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement. He was among more than 100 opposition members arrested in the following days and spent more than a year in prison.

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23 Comments

  1. bayrakiniyakan said:

    What the US government do if some one tolled the whole media that he is going to attack the white house and the CIA & FBI headquarters ????? Հարց եմ տալիս, այդ որ մի երկրում մի շիզոֆրեն օրը ցերեկով , ով կհայտարարի բոլոր թղթակիցներին, թե հարձակվելու է նախագահականի եվ ազգային անվտանգության վրա, կոչ անելով միանալ իրեն և չեն ձեռբակալի ? Իսկ ՀՀ սահմանադրությամբ բռնի իշխանափոխության փորձ կատարելը պատժելի է: Ամերիկայում , Եվրոպայում, կամ հոգեբուժարան կուղղարկեն կամ որպես տերրորիստ ցմահ կդատապարտեն:

  2. Hayk Grigoryan said:

    The story wrongly described.
    I Saw clips on YouTube and I did not see any provocative person.
    The fact is that when you say there is provocateur around us and put the masks on
    looks strange or stupid.
    My self I do not respect any body who stands next to fascist Levon-Ter Petrosyan.

  3. Pingback: The Great Armenian Revolution of 2013 | theGampr

  4. Armanen said:

    I blame the Yerevan police for not taking this nutjob into custody soon after he made his ‘revolutionary’ statements. They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if only Harutiunyan had been arrested earlier. In the US or EU he would have been arrested for making the statements that he made prior to the protest.

  5. Hagopian hagopian said:

    Execution is the solution to these “armenians”
    Better yet shoot then execution style and force each relative to compensate for the bullet.
    Enough is enough Armenia love it or leave it!

    • Armenian said:

      Yeah, let’s kill more Armenians. Because that’s just what this country with a declining birthrate and population needs– more dead Armenians, and more alienated ones so that Armenia becomes a country where all 100,000 of its future inhabitants are exactly alike mentally.

  6. Harutik said:

    This was just another measure to punish Sargsyan’s administration due to Yerevan’s recent decision to join the Russian-led Customs Union. Ever since Yerevan’s historic announcement on September 3, Armenia’s Western-led opposition freaks have been very active. And with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long overdue visit looming in Armenia, we can expect more mischief by them.

    Enough of this “complimentary politics” nonsense. Armenian officials need to stop giving Western-led NGOs and propaganda outlets the freedom to destabilize Armenia. We as a people need to stop tolerating Armenia’s Western-led political opposition freaks. There is too much political freedom in Armenia. The Armenian government is too lenient when it comes to domestic political matters. This freedom and leniency is being looked upon as weakness by Western powers and their operatives inside Armenia.

    A good way to stop these freaks is to break up their support groups and stop their funding. And if that does not work, spill some blood. Eliminate a few of their ringleaders and jail the rest and we’ll have the sociopolitical peace and stability needed to help the Armenian state continue its evolutionary course.

    Had these people tried to pull-off something like this in the US for instance, they would have been shot dead – or at the very least beaten, pepper-sprayed, tased, beaten some more, arrested, interrogated as terrorists, beaten some more and thrown into jail and then raped by police batons…

    • Sarkis said:

      Thank you Harutik. This one post has more substance in it than all of the anti-Armenian garbage by foreign agents like maria titzizian, richard giragosyan, garo ghazarian and dozens of other “revolution now(!)” provocateurs that asbarez publishes.

      I hope everyone who reads the article will take time to read, study and disseminate the message in your comment. Armenia needs positive voices like yours to be heard in it’s US Diaspora.

    • Hagopian hagopian said:

      My exact sentiments.
      Raffi hovhannissian, Richard guiragosian, libaridian, oskanian te al…
      To name a few

  7. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    If sightless politician use their inhumanity…
    Armenia will become another dying place
    I was there recently…I read the tears in every eye …
    I saw the pavements full of end of cigarettes
    Gardens were yellow starving for care
    From the heads who are enjoying themselves…
    Forgetting their suffering race…

    People in the streets are revenging from cigarettes
    smoking and casting them like small children
    in the gardens… on the pavements
    If you collect all the pieces left
    will look like hill of bones of the Der-zor
    You can tell how people are suffering
    and continue to suffer…

    We are no longer helpful Armenian as we were…
    The rich is rich throwing their bread
    the poor is poor is poor, longing to have piece to feed their kin…

    People were dying to have freedom…now it is there
    But we are hanging our people without chains…

    Awake politicians and read your people’ pain…
    Awake you will die one day, as everyone
    Don’t end like Stalin …where people who suffered from his regime …
    spitted on his grave after he left…

    Leave you selfish attitudes and fell at least for one day
    that you are real Armenians…
    You have responsibility to care for your people
    Who are asking from you to get their real happy smile back…

    Sylva-MD-Poetry

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  10. ashot O said:

    If there is revolution for real il do my best to come back and help…fug the oligarchy they should all be hanged in the middle of Yerevan. …one by one…

    • Sarkis said:

      Vigilantism, threats, terrorism and coup detats are the last thing Armenia needs. People like you are the reason Armenia’s government and Armenians from Armenia are reluctant to trust Diasporans. Instead of spewing threats against Armenia, save the “fug them” attitude for the governments in the west which play word games with the Armenian Genocide and which arm and encourage turkey and azerbaijan.

  11. Mihran said:

    Sadly, this is what happens and can happen when people are so desperate for change as there is no genuine democratic process in Armenia,its all based on fraud,forgery, and corruption.

    Oligarchy rules the day.

  12. Avetis said:

    Armenia’s Western-led political opposition has turned into a freak show. Raffi Hovanissian, Zaruhi Boztanjian, Richard Giragosian, Vartan Oskanian, Paruyr Hayrikian, Levon Petrosian, Shant Harutiunyan???… Just thinking about these people coming to power in Armenia makes me want to pray at nights thanking God for the government we have.

  13. karakeuz said:

    This mad man is a psychotic, imbalanced individual, a poseur. He was going to start a revolution ? Judging by his statements, he is a lunatic ranter. These proto simian armenian australopithicus should be allowed to demonstrate. They can only entertain the crowd and spectators, a circus show in the centre of Erevan. However when the circus pantomimes are over, haul all of them off stage and house them where they belong, an asylum. We should guard against our country becoming a panmixia thirld world theme park.

  14. arziv said:

    Words, words, words. typical, if there is a real r……, I’ll come back and hang the oligarchy……. if this , that I’ll do this or that. Words, empty words of day dreamers sitting comfortable in foreign lands, with nothing else to do but looking for excitement and passtime. Who is going to hang the oligarchy? Another oligarch, ? or another crook and criminal from abroad ? . There is no better government for Armenia than the actual government of ” oligarchs” . definitely we do not want to see parvenu oligarch Raffi ohannessian, a master craftsman at wrecking anyhting he touches, or somnambulist caught in 60 years time warp raving Parukyan, or other green shoots to be oligarchs, or traitors like Petrossian.

  15. armen said:

    Get rid of the corruption, the gangsters, and the monopolies they set up. Born in California, but I love my country and hate what these men have done to it. They live in palaces while the common man can’t afford a loaf of bread to feed his children. Revolution….it’s always paid with blood. Are we ready to accept that price?

  16. Avetis said:

    Armen jan, no, we are not ready to accept the price so I suggest you just stay in LA and rot.

  17. Sassoon Kosian said:

    You people fail to see that Armenia is going in a self-destructive path, prompting people to desperate acts like this. Armenia is ruled by a small group of criminal oligarchs, and people are leaving the country in large numbers. Those of you criticizing Shant fail to notice that what he did was out of desperation, it was a courageous act and he know he was going to jail for that and was even ready to be shot… how many of you are ready for an act like that for your country? If not, then I suggest you shut your mouths.

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