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Police Officer ‘Suspended’ Over Hitting Protester


Protesters in a standoff with police near Yerevan's Opera House, 14 March 2019

A police officer has been suspended from performing his duties pending investigation after a video showing him hitting a protester, a police spokesman said.

In a Facebook post late on Thursday head of the Police’s Information and Public Relations Department Ashot Aharonian said: “A video has been disseminated showing a police officer hitting and kicking a citizen in [Yerevan’s] Liberty Square. Upon the instruction of Police Chief Valery Osipian, the Police’s Internal Security Department has launched an internal probe in connection with the case, while the police officer has been suspended from performing his duties.”

The incident took place on Thursday when municipal authorities continued to dismantle cafes in the vicinity of the Opera House in Yerevan.

Several dozen employees of the cafes as well as their owners staged a protest, trying to block traffic in a nearby street.

Police detained 16 citizens for “not complying with police officers’ lawful demands.” They were released later on.

At least one police officer and one protester were injured in the scuffle and were briefly hospitalized to be treated for their injuries.

Yerevan’s municipal authorities said they will continue the demolition work to free the green zone around the cultural building from illegal structures.

The cafe owners and employees described the actions of the municipality as illegal.

Some activists, on the contrary, had come to the square to show their support for the actions of the Yerevan authorities and the police.

Civil activist Vardges Gaspari said the authorities were doing the right thing from the point of view of both law and morality. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service last night that his poster was seized from him by one of the protesting young men and his glasses were broken during the scuffle.

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