Armenia: Police Block Bus Activists' Tent Protest
The recent rage against higher bus fares in Yerevan may have concluded in protesters' favor, but a struggle against the man who raised those fares, Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian, is proving a bumpier campaign. Clashes between police and protesters broke out in downtown Yerevan on August 1 when demonstrators tried to pitch tents in front of the mayor's office.
Police claimed that that requires a permit from the mayor's office. Several demonstrators were arrested and released later on the same day.
The series of protests began in the wake of a boycott of public transportation in the Armenian capital after the city government raised fares. Mayor Markarian was forced to decrease the prices, after Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, for one, commented favorably on demonstrators' campaign, but the protesters continue to accuse the municipality of mismanagement of the city transportation system and have demanded the resignation of municipal officials. Mayor Markarian’s offer to overhaul the public conveyance system has been dismissed by protesters.
Yerevan's experience with camp-out protests is not always a happy one. While Barevolution (Hello Revolution) hunger-strikers and supporters managed it after this year's presidential vote without negative consequences, in 2008, clashes between police and supporters of ex-President Levon Ter-Petrosian protesting election results led to the deaths of ten people, a memory that has dogged the rule of President Serzh Sargsyan.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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