The United States called on the Armenian authorities and protesters in Yerevan to exercise caution in their continuing standoff over an electricity price hike which seemed to escalate late on Sunday.
“Concerned by tense situation [in] downtown [Yerevan,]” the U.S. Embassy in Armenia wrote on its Twitter page. “Urge all sides to display peaceful, restrained behavior befitting democratic values.”
The statement followed renewed threats by the Armenian police to forcibly disperse scores of protesters blocking a central Yerevan avenue for the seventh consecutive day. Despite those threats, most protesters decided to stay put until the authorities officially and unconditionally revoke a more than 17 percent surge in energy tariffs.
The police already used force to break up a protest on Marshal Bagramian Avenue on June 23. Thousands of mostly young Armenians again occupied a section of that avenue later on that day.
The U.S. Embassy was quick to criticize that violent crackdown, citing “reports of excessive police use of force.” “In addition, we are troubled by reports that journalists and their equipment were specifically targeted during the operation,” it said, urging the Armenian authorities to conduct a “full and transparent investigation.”