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Police beats protesters from the opposition rally – updated


Covered by Unzipped, Narjan, Aramazd here, here and here, HyeBlog, E-channel blog, A1plus blog.
A1+ just reported that police and security forces brutally oppressed peaceful demonstration of opposition movement using force, beating demonstrators and using tear-gas towards journalists and demonstrators. (Unzipped)
Today, after the rally organized by the IMPEACHMENT bloc, REPUBLIC and NEW TIMES parties, the special police forces beat participants of the rally and march to KGB, where the hero of Shushi, Zhirair Sefilyan, was jailed. (Aramazd)
Pigh has a completely different perspective of the event:

“I never judge anybody, I don’t have the right to it, and I respect the points of views of people, if they are genuinely honest, and I don’t want the blood of people, who’re just pushed forward by the provokers, no matter what side they come from: “Impeachment” of government. The whole business stinks, but someone needs this stink… And yesterday it once again became obvious for me, that wherever you have HHSh – it will always stink…
Guys, take care of yourselves, neither Serge, nor Robert, nor Nikol are worth even the smallest scratch on your bodies…”

There’s a lot of controversy Kornelij Glas says, and its hard to understand who really provoked whom, however, looking at the overall context of the elections Kornelij is amazed just how stupid the authorities are behaving by arresting Alexandr Arzumanyan and beating people at the rally like that. “This is just a pointless annoyment of the people”, without having any reasons to behave like that, as the main contenders for the parliament are the two big pro-government parties anyway. And now, as a result of such actions the atmosphere will overheat and people will get over their apathy, which can lead into far reaching consequences, the blogger concludes.
Anarchists from the ALS Movement are also looking at the global picture:

It all has a simple historically-materialist explanation: when a businessmen makes an investment, he must also take care of protecting his business interests. [] What we saw yesterday is nothing less then the Armenian rulling elite trying to protect its business interests. I expected police brutality after the elections, but hardly 3 days before. At stake is not Impeachment’s ideology, but a much more basic right to be able to hold peaceful rallies and to voice protests in contemporary capitalist Բարգավաճների Հայաստան Armenia belonging to the prosperous. Last night the Armenian state has demonstrated its paranoia, and where its fears are. It fears when people take to the streets in numbers. A paradoxical irony: Armenian state fears its own people.

Video and photo by A1plus.

By Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant

24 replies on “Police beats protesters from the opposition rally – updated”

Journalist organizations here and abroad need to issue a statement immediately. Journalists must be allowed to fulfill their professional duties without being attacked as they were last night (I was assaulted twice last night by KGB and police although not seriously).
Anyway, I’m really serious about this. Journalists must immediately address the government so an order from the top is given. Kocharian must PUBLICLY inform police and security agents that journalists MUST NOT be targeted. As for demonstrators, well, that’s the same in any society.
If people clash with police it’s going to get violent. Last night it was obvious that Impeachment and Republic wanted a clash, and they got it. I can only dread what might happen if they try this again after election day.

Был вчера на митинге “Импичмента”,пошел убить время заодно и посмотреть,как все будет развиваться.
Народу было в 2 раза меньше,чем в прошлый раз,речевки были те же,только на этот раз слишком сильно чувствовался запашок АОД-а(были пробные реверансы в сторону Левона АнтерТер-Петросяна),конферансье был откровенно скучным,но что-то мне подсказывало,что Николь и сотоварищи не могут спокойно смотреть,на то что ряды их поредели,нужен какой-то импульс,нарваться на что-то. И когда сказали,что будет шествие на Плошадь,где был концерт с участием российских поп-звезд в присутствие Сержа Саркисяна,стало уже понятно,что будет дальше… “И тут Паниковский понял,что его будут бить” /ц/
Распрощавшись с ребятами я пошел на футбол,но сердце было неспокойно…
Совершенно не разделяя взгляды “Импичмента”,так как уверен,что это АОДовский проект(в чем вчера убедился на 200%),тем не менее.зная лично некоторых ребят(отнюдь неплохих),понял ,что будет провокация со стороны Никола и иже с ними-как оказалось в точку… По свидетельству очевидца,Николь полез на ступеньки здания,требовать освобождения одного из экс-председателей АОД,его попросили спуститься,слово за слово и ребят стали бить дубинками и пускать слезоточивый газ… К ак говорится,за что боролись,на то и напоролись..
Слава Богу,сообразили не идти на площадь,где точно бы пролилась большая кровь-навернов это не входило в планы организаторов провокации…То,что попытка будет,причем после выборов,уверен как никогда,но какой смысл не знаю…
Я никого не сужу,не имею право,я уважаю взгляды людей,если они искренни,и я не хочу крови людей которых просто толкают провокаторы,будь они со стороны “Импичмент” или властей. Дело пахнет смрадом,но кому-то этот смрад нужен…
И вчера мне стало опять ясно,что там где АОД-там всегда будет вонять…
Ребята ,берегите себя,никто ни Серж,ни Роберт,ни Николь и co не стоят даже маленькой царапинки на вашем теле….
Храни нас всех Бог…
http://www.pigh.livejournal.com

This is very important because in April 2004 journalists were specifically targeted by the police and Hayk Gevorkyan was personally beaten by the Deputy Head of Police, Hovannes Varyan.
All accredited journalists must be allowed to do their jobs as long as they do not interfere with the work of the police in crowd control. However, the police MUST BE told to leave journalists alone and NOT consider them “enemies.”
I’d also advise making sure you make similar approaches to the OSCE/ODIHR and CE guys here. They should issue a statement as well.

I don’t know Russian but from sticking that comment above through Babelfish, it seems to suggest that far less people turned up at yesterday’s rally. If that’s the case, as someone who usually criticizes media outlets for for inflating the number of those attending, I can tell you quite categorically that the number was probably about the same. Some of us were estimating the crowd at about 7-8,000 which was probably around about the same when they assembled last in Liberty Square.

Dear Onnik
Unfortunately it was really less people than last time(even,some of the Impeachment people accepted it). There were several reasons(rain,concert on Republic Square).On the Liberty Square was at lwast 15000 people,no need to be so controversial..

Not to repeat myself – here’s an extract from my post at Blogrel:

I guess everybody knew there will be a fight after yesterday’s rally. It was going to serve as the last test to see just how serious both the government and opposition are about the revolutionary way of changing the government after the elections. We can see now, that the government, or Serge Sargsyan and the Republican party to be more correct, are determined to oppress any expression of revolutionism with the most cruel means. The article from Panarmenian below doesn’t talk about the brutality, with which special police forces beat protesters. Let me remind once again, that the organizers of the march had a permission from Yerevan Municipality to organize it. It was clear from the start, that the opposition are determined to pick up a fight, it was also obvious, that government had carefully planned this display of power – from what I read and hear – it was the police forces who provoked the fight in the first place. However, if Serge Sargsyan had planned to scare people, it doesn’t seem to have worked – people have just gotten more frustrated and determined to fight again.

Kronstadt, I disagree with the 15,000 figure for the last rally at Liberty Square as I’ve said before. Talking among ourselves at that event, we reckoned there were more than 5,000 but less than 10,000. Several thousand, for sure. Perhaps 7,000? Figures for yesterday were estimated at 6-7,000 by one foreign journalist. Anyway, it’s obvious that the issue here is how many were at the Liberty Square rally, but I suppose I could be wrong. Guestimating the number of participants at rallies is a problematic issue. However, I’d say this. Most journalists put the Orinats Yerkir rally at the Matenadaran at 5-6,000. Yesterday’s rally was larger than that, for sure.

Incidentally, I can’t say that the police picked the fight as I missed what started the clash. Ran back to see some plain clothes guys (NSS, I guess) drag some guy onto the steps of the building and hit him. However, the way the Red Berets also ran back after the clash started made me think that there wasn’t a plan to have a fight.
As Observer said, and actually we were discussing this earlier at the Matenadaran an hour earlier, it seemed a clash was inevitable before the march started. Probably the opposition guys wanted something like this. Maybe they even needed it. Can’t say whether the police provoked anything as I didn’t see what started it. However, up until when it started I was under the impression that they were taken unawares.
When the Red Berets moved up along Nalbandian to try to cut off access to the NSS building it looked like they left the rear unguarded. I guessed that opposition supporters saw that and took the opportunity. Anyway, that was my initial assumption and what I thought must have happened, but I admit I was 15 or 20 meters further on up. All I can remember is sirens being sounded from behind me which alerted the Red Berets to run back down.
Even then, they were unsure what was going on and took something like 10 or 15 seconds to react.

What did make me wonder about things, btw, was on my way back to meet friends near the opera at Shamrock, I saw two senior members of Republic party — one of the opposition parties involved in the clash — sit quite relaxed at an open air cafe drinking. One, Suren Sureniants, was speaking on his phone. They didn’t seem to bothered about what had been going on 30 minutes earlier outside the NSS building and I’m sure they had been informed.

hello Onnik,
sorry I think you’re confusing me with Tigran Kocharyan. It was he who mentioned the figure of 15,000
As for me, I don’t pay as much attention to these small number discrepancies as much as to the presence and the kind of reviews that these events gain in mainstream meadia which constitutes the public knowledge. Pretty postmodern, ha? But the entirety of our knowledge of what happened in Gulf War in 1991 was that which CNN told us was the case. Gulf War 1 could as well have been shot in the studio for all we know… you get my point? Remember “Wag the Dog” movie. If the media says that there were just 3000, then that’s what matters in the broader scheme of things… and not the actual number that went there.

For a governemnt to do such a thing 3 days before the elections and not after, is just plain stupid — they should have instructed crowd control properly to refrain from provocations. But then the big mystery is why did they narrow the Nalbandyan street? I don’t think neither the governemnt nor Impeachment provoked or desired that which happed yesterday. But there was definitely a tension – a lot of tension. And in the midst of all this tension and confusion a small push or foul mouth is a spark enough.
The interesting thing to look at is what does this mean in the contxt of the elections. Imean everywhere in Armenian cyberspace (press, blogs, news, radio) yesterday’s events are buzzing with opinions. And there is no such thing as bad press, especially for the increasingly populist entity such as Impeachment. Overall, yesterday’s events seems to have benefitted Impeachment both in terms of number of ballots in their favour on May 12, and also in terms of how the events following May 13 will be viewed in public eye.
As an indicator of this shift we can just look to the BAROMETER of Armenian politics, who swings in all directions depending on where the oportunities await and gains are to be made — yes, of course I’m talking about Geghamyan. This famous oportunist swinger of Armenian political landscape has already made a stament that he intends to jump on Impeachments bandwaggon and cash in accordingly should Impeachment be as “successful” as yesterday once again. http://www.a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&iid=49012

Well, Geghamian says he’ll jump on the bandwagon if the election is falsified which means he expects a certain amount of seats and that’s all. The question is whether or not he will be satisfied with those number of seats if the election is highly flawed to the point where international observers condemn the election.
As for Impeachment, Republic and New Times, I just don’t think they have enough support in society. Rallying several thousand people isn’t much if nobody else supports you and so far I haven’t heard many people say they do. Basically, they’re not even running for parliament. They’re trying to start a revolution on 13 May.
I’d say a peaceful democratic revolution but I can’t because it won’t be peaceful or democratic. It will be one minority group against another and I daresay it will be bloody. If they’re hoping for international sympathy they’re not going to get it. From day one they were preparing for revolution and not an election. They want regime change by any means and the ballot box is not an option for them.
On the other hand, if Heritage, National Unity and Orinats Yerkir were to get involved it becomes something different and perhaps more representative of society.
Well, apart from the many, many people who do say they will vote for Prosperous Armenia although I don’t suppose they’d take to the streets in Tsarukian’s defense either. Then the bickering will start and nobody will agree on anything and try to get the most for themselves and nothing would have changed at all.
Impeachment et all are a minority in the minority that is the population that even cares or thinks about this election. So, it will be a battle between one minority group (radical opposition) and another (government). That’s all. Well, with one exception, any post-election clashes run the risk of being very nasty indeed, and it’s something the three leaders — Pashinian, Sarkisyan and Karapetian — seem quite willing to risk.

I don’t believe it. A1 Plus quotes Suren Surenyants as witnessing “the conflict between the police and the meeting participants.”
Yet, when I left and walked to meet some friends I saw him sitting at the cafe opposite the Republic party office.
So, either he left the meeting when it turned nasty or he didn’t witness anything at all.
Either way, he couldn’t have been where the action was for long, or at all, in fact.

Serge Sargsyan is angry and when his excellency is angry lighting [ gaizak! ] falleth from the sky. What impeachment tasted yesterday is nothing compared to what is in store for them. May 13th the day after the elections is a Sunday and it will be a sunday bloody sunday in Armenia.

hayer in4 na sksel??? mi thaqavori ir generalnerov tex@ , myus na gah uzum ….
zardneq !!!!!!

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