Naira Zohrabian, a member of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party’s (BHK) parliamentary faction, was injured during a scuffle between police officers and a group of citizens protesting the dismantling of cafes in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Thursday, her colleague Arman Abovian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
“When the police-people scuffle began it happened so that the crowd moved backed and Ms. Zohrabian fell. I pulled her out, but her foot was injured. She suffered quite a shock. It’s clear that Ms. Zohrabian was quickly taken away from here,” Abovian said.
At least one protester and one police officer were briefly hospitalized and treated for injuries sustained in another clash earlier today.
A group of owners and employees of cafes situated near the Opera House in central Yerevan briefly blocked traffic in a nearby street protesting the municipal authorities’ decision to dismantle commercial facilities in the area.
The police said 16 protesters were briefly detained for “not complying with police officers’ lawful demands.”
The dismantling of two cafes began on Wednesday and continued today with the use of heavy equipment. The activities were temporarily halted after protesting citizens obstructed the work of the demolition excavator before resuming again.
Municipal authorities insist that the green zone around the Opera House, one of the landmark buildings in central Yerevan, should not be overburdened with commercial property.
In a Facebook post earlier today Mayor Hayk Marutian vowed continuous efforts “to recover Yerevan’s cultural features.” He thanked the city’s residents for “being next to the authorities in this matter” and said that “we feel your support.”
Lawmaker Abovian said that the goal of Zohrabian’s and his presence at the scene was to ensure dialogue and mutual respect between the opposing sides in the standoff.