46 detained Fresh protests in Armenia over energy price increase

Demonstrations over price hikes continue after police clear key artery in capital that protesters had blocked for weeks.

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Armenian riot police earlier detained dozens of protesters and shortly released them [Getty Images] play

Armenian riot police earlier detained dozens of protesters and shortly released them [Getty Images]

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Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in a central square in the Armenian capital to continue protests over energy price hikes after police cleared a key artery they had blocked for weeks.

Dozens of protesters were detained by the Riot police. The AFP news agency reports that the police dismantled a barricade of dumpsters the protesters had built across an avenue close to the presidential palace in Yerevan.

A senior police official, Valery Osipyan urged the protesters to disperse peacefully. When they refused to obey the order, riot police moved in, detaining 46 people to cries of "Shame" from the protesters.

According to an interior ministry spokesman, the demonstrators were later released.

About 1,500 protesters gathered at Yerevan's central Liberty Square, where a small group of demonstrators had already been maintaining a vigil, vowing to keep up pressure on the government until their demands are met. 

"You are free to gather here. But we warn that we will not allow marches on Yerevan streets," Osipyan told the crowd.

Protesters in the impoverished former Soviet state have been demonstrating since June 19 to demand a 16-percent hike in electricity tariffs be scrapped.

President Serzh Sarkisian last month, in an attempt to appease the protesters, announced that the government would temporarily "bear the burden" of the higher prices.

Sarkisian also said the increase, which had been scheduled to take effect on August 1, would be postponed while the government carried out an audit to assess whether it was really necessary.

The protesters have however noted they would continue with their campaign.

"The police actions were illegal. We will not give up, our demands remain in force," one of the protesters, David Sanasaryan, told AFP.

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