Today marks the second anniversary of Electric Yerevan, the crowdiest social rebellion in Armenia’s history since the independence period.
For exactly a fortnight, Armenia’s capital, particularly Baghramyan avenue (which was the site of the protest), was under the spotlijght of leading local but also international media outlet.
The civic campaign also attracted axtive social media users of different ages and genders, uniting them in the protests against the public regulator’s decision to raise the electricity tariffs.
Early in the morning on June 23, the police used water cannons to dispel the young people from the scene. The protest gained a greater momentum after 237 activists were taken to police precincts for interrogation.
The police violence against peaceful protests took even larger crowds to the streets to express their support to the justified demand.
Electric Yerevan was a very important movemnet in the transitional period regardless of its outcome, says Narek Sargsyan, an active participant of the protests.
“Despite of our will, it rose to public prominence as an accomplished fact and a reality we weren’t sadly ready for to properly overcome the challenges. Unfortunately, though, I did not have a great influence on the decision-making to make the process more professionally-oriented so to speak. We met also people who pursued their own interests and who, by the way, had nothing to do with the group which had launched the campaign,” he added.
As a positive outcome, the activist cited President Serzh Sargsyan’s move to suspend the Public Services Regulatory Commission’s decision.
The two weeks of public protests saw the disobedience campaign develop into a well-organized civic movement. Volunteer groups with medical education were at the protest site to provide aid to those beaten in clashes with the police. The organizers had even created a small library; many others had joined the crowd to supply them with food and drink.
Celebrities too, headed to the protest site with family members, including even newborns.
The crowd in Yerevan’s central avenue celebrated three weddings over the period.
“The western culture seemed to be gaining ground at first sight, but it wasn’t eventually perceived and accepted,” Samsonyan added.
A month after the public protests, the National Assembly passed a billl to mitigate the tariffs. The measure offered, particularly, subsidies to the small- and medium-sized enterprises spending monthly up to 250 kilowatts of electric power.