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U.S., EU Concerned Over Armenia Unrest


Armenia -- A protester is hit by a jet of water released from a riot police vehicle during a rally against a recent decision to increase the tariff on electricity, in Yerevan, Armenia, June 23, 2015.

Armenia -- A protester is hit by a jet of water released from a riot police vehicle during a rally against a recent decision to increase the tariff on electricity, in Yerevan, Armenia, June 23, 2015.

The United States and the European Union on Tuesday expressed concern at the use of force by the Armenian police against scores of people who took to the streets of Yerevan to protest against rising energy prices.

The U.S. Embassy in Armenia praised the “responsible and generally respectful behavior by both protestors and police” at the start of their standoff in the city center on Monday evening.

“However, we are concerned about reports of excessive police use of force to disperse the crowd on the morning of June 23, as well as several reports of abuse while in police custody,” it said in a statement. “In addition, we are troubled by reports that journalists and their equipment were specifically targeted during the operation.”

The U.S. mission went on to urge the Armenian authorities to conduct a “full and transparent investigation” into those reports.

The U.S. concerns were echoed by Dirk Lorenz, the acting head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan. “Reports about excessive use of force against a peaceful rally, as well as on violence directed against journalists are alarming,” he said in a statement.

Lorenz too called for an “impartial” inquiry into the violence. “A genuine dialogue between authorities and the civil society is the only way to overcome tough and unpopular economic decisions,” he added.

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