YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenian protest leaders called for a rally on Monday evening in the capital Yerevan after police briefly arrested dozens of protesters and removed barricades following two weeks of demonstrations over electricity prices.
Thousands of people have been protesting in the evenings over the electricity price increase which is due to take effect on Aug. 1, though their numbers fall during the day.
President Serzh Sargsyan’s promise to suspend the price rise for households until after an independent review failed to end protests in the ex-Soviet country of 3.2 million that has been hit by economic downturn in Russia, its main trading partner.
On Monday, police reopened Bagramyan Avenue without resorting to force while a representative for the protest organizers called for a rally in nearby Freedom Square.
“We won’t give up our demands, we will continue our fight,” Arthur Harutyunyan said, reading from a statement.
The state regulatory commission decided in June that household electricity prices should rise after the distribution company, a subsidiary of Russian firm Inter RAO, citing a decline in the dram currency, asked for a price hike.
Armenian officials have called the planned increases justified but the government says it will cover the price rise out of state funds until an independent audit of Inter RAO’s subsidiary is completed. That review has not yet begun.
Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Louise Ireland