YEREVAN (ArmInfo)—The rule of President Serzh Sarkissian and Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan will be considered “inappropriate” if the three demands of the No To Plunder movement are not met, the youth group announced on Monday. A public march and rally to the Armenian Prosecutor General’s office to take place on Tuesday, July 14, was also announced.
No To Plunder did not say if it would call for Sarkissian’s and Abrahamyan’s resignation, but continued to reiterate their three demands and said that if those demands were not met, the current government’s rule would be considered “inappropriate”.
The demands of the youth group include the reversal of the decision by the Public Services Regulatory Commission to raise electricity tariffs by 6.93 drams (over 16%), to reconsider the current tariff rates and lower them, and to punish the police officers who used excessive force to disperse and arrest protesters and journalists during the police crackdown on the sit-in on Marshal Baghramyan Avenue on June 23. The members said that any other demands reported by the press are false.
On Tuesday, July 14, the group plans to hold a march to the Prosecutor General’s Office and a subsequent rally, demanding that police officers who used excessive force in the early morning of June 23 be punished. City authorities have been notified of the planned march.
“We are glad that the relevant bodies are investigating the violence against journalists but we think that everyone who used violence against protesters must be punished. All detained protesters were subjected to violence and badmouthed but none of the officials standing there interfered,” said Maxim Sargsyan, an organizer of the No To Plunder movement.
Armenian Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan apologized to reporters earlier for the actions of police officers on June 23, stating that “an official investigation will soon shed light on what happened.”
“There have obviously been some omissions which I noticed in work, especially with regard to mass media representatives. I apologize for that. I ordered an official investigation and we will deal with the matter. I know that technical equipment was damaged. The police will reimburse the reporters for material damage,” said Gasparyan.
One police officer has since been demoted and eight others have been reprimanded for their role in the crackdown on June 23. An internal inquiry by the Yerevan police is still underway.
Members of the No To Plunder movement also dismissed reports about the alleged break-up of the movement.
“We are all together. There are people who are affiliated with political parties but it does not matter, we are all citizens of Armenia. Simply, certain people have problems with time and cannot always be on our side,” said Artush Chibukhchyan.
The group has not decided whether it will participate in the audit in the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA). According to one member of the initiative, Sofia Hovsepyan, No To Plunder has set up its own commission to examine the issue after the audit of the ENA was announced.
“Every year, they conduct a financial audit in the company, but every year the electricity tariffs are raised. Everything will be meaningless unless they conduct a technical audit. We shall decide on our involvement after they say what kind of audit they are going to conduct,” said Hovsepyan.
In response to a question about the group’s decision to leave Marshal Baghramyan Avenue before their demands were met, Maxim Sargsyan said that, “whatever happened, happened. When we unblocked Baghramyan we continued the protest at Liberty Square. We did not go home, this is a wrong opinion.”
Sargsyan added that they are likely to block Baghramyan and Mashtots Avenues again if authorities ignore their demands. The group is coordinating with its members and continues to meet with citizens in other provinces, according to Rima Sargsyan.
“If we act within the law, it does not mean we abandoned the struggle and the idea of rallies. Nothing of the kind,” said Chibukchyan.