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Activists Fined For Yerevan Park Protest


Armenia - Prominent campaigners demonstrate against kiosk construction in Yerevan's Mashtots Park, 4Apr2012.

Armenia - Prominent campaigners demonstrate against kiosk construction in Yerevan's Mashtots Park, 4Apr2012.

A court in Yerevan has fined four environmental activists for scuffling with police during recent protests against the controversial construction of kiosks in a small public park in the city center.

The activists are members of a self-styled “dismantling brigade” that joined dozens of young Armenians who held daily demonstrations in Mashtots Park earlier this year. On April 15 they broke through police barriers in an attempt to tear down the incomplete structures. The police used force to push them out.

The incident took place two weeks before President Serzh Sarkisian told municipal authorities to remove the more than one dozen kiosks built in the park, saying they are “not quite nice.” The activists, among them filmmaker Tigran Khzmalian and political analyst Manvel Sargsian, were taken to court despite that.

In a ruling announced late on Tuesday, Armenia’s Administrative Court found them guilty of disobeying police orders and fined each of them more than 50,000 drams ($120). All four men rejected the ruling, saying that they will not pay the fines and will consider appealing it.

“It’s a public area and they had no right to protect the illegal construction there,” Manvel Sargsian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday. He said President Sarkisian’s order showed that the protesters were right.
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