Police cleared a street in Yerevan’s southern Erebuni district early on Thursday several hours after clashing there with demonstrators sympathetic to opposition gunmen occupying a nearby police station.
Riot police units detained virtually all of several dozen protesters that remained there in the early hours of the morning. The latter ignored repeated warnings to disperse that were issued by a riot police commander before the pre-dawn operation.
Several of the protesters were punched and kicked while being dragged away law-enforcement officers.
The precise number of the detainees was not immediately clear. They included two senior members of Nikol Pashinian’s moderate opposition Civil Contract party.
Pashinian, who was at the scene during the operation, protested against his associates’ detention. A police captain told him that they defied police orders.
“Why don’t you arrest me as well?” retorted Pashinian.
Armenia - Protesters throw stones at riot police in Yerevan, 20Jul2016.
Pashinian has tried to prevent more bloodshed and street violence since the gunmen affiliated with a more radical opposition group seized the Erebuni police compound on Sunday. He rushed to Khorenatsi Street leading to the compound on Wednesday night shortly after some 200 angry protesters attacked security forces in an attempt to approach the seized building.
The police were pelted with stones as they pushed back the crowd, using shields, truncheons, tear gas and stun grenades. At least 45 policemen and protesters were injured as a result.
Wednesday’s violence ended after Pashinian’s intervention, helped by the presence of two Armenian priests. The angry crowd built a barricade with plastic trash bins before shrinking in size in the following hours.
On Tuesday, the police clashed with 20 or so male residents of Yerevan’s blue-collar Sari Tagh neighborhood adjacent to Erebuni. They too threw stones and voiced support for the gunmen holding four policemen hostage.
At least one of the Sari Tagh men was arrested and faced criminal charges on Wednesday.