YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—No To Plunder, the youth movement that last month initiated nonstop street protests against electricity price hikes in Armenia, has dismissed the sanctions placed on police officers involved in the violent breakup of a demonstration on June 23, calling them inadequate.
The group’s statement comes in reaction to an announcement on Monday that one Yerevan police officer was demoted and eight others reprimanded for use of excessive force during the dispersal of protesters staging a sit-in on Marshal Bagramyan Avenue on June 23.
Over two dozen protesters were injured in crackdown, and over 230 individuals including journalists were briefly detained by police and plainclothes officers. The crackdown was criticized by Armenian media and opposition groups, as well as Western observers.
“No To Plunder believes that with their imitational steps the Police are again trying to placate people’s anger against the police officers who broke the law and leave the demand unmet,” the group said.
No To Plunder now demands that the officers who committed violence be relieved of their positions and prosecuted, emphasizing that such due course would confirm that the “illegal” actions of police on June 23 were not ordered by the Yerevan police chief.
“In the event that [the police] not comply with these demands, all responsibility will lie with [Police Chief] Vova Gasparyan personally,” No To Plunder said.
Members and supporters of the youth group plan a march towards the Prosecutor-General’s Office in Yerevan tonight to reiterate their demand for the prosecution and punishment of the police officers involved in the June 23 crackdown.
Workers of Nairit Plant Block Major Avenue in Yerevan
In related news, workers of the Yerevan-based Nairit chemical plant blocked Bagratuniants Avenue today in Yerevan, demanding repayment of their back wages.
Anush Harutyunyan, a member of Nairit’s coordinating group for protest actions, told reporters that promises had been made that debts would be repaid by July 15, but now workers are being told to sign a number of documents with “some incomprehensible arguments being put forward”.
One agreement in particular that workers have been asked to sign is a waiver of fines paid to employees in the case of back wages. Workers were told that their debts would be paid within 4-5 days.
According to Harutyunyan, workers were told that they would not receive their wages if they refuse to sign the document.
“We are not against that demand, we will sign, but in this way they are delaying the salary payment due tomorrow. We already learned that no salaries will be distributed tomorrow,” she added.
On June 9 Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan received a group of Nairit Plant workers, and during consultations held with President Serzh Sarkissian, it was decided that financial resources would be sought out in order to pay Nairit workers the back wages they were owed in recent years. Energy Minister Yervand Zakharyan was instructed to set up a commission to calculate the wages. Debts were scheduled to be repaid by July 15.
Since late 2014 Nairit Plant workers have staged protests demanding repayment of their back wages for the last 4 years—a sum of 5.7 billion drams. On February 6, 2015, the plant announced 1700 lay-offs.