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Armenian Lawmaker Said Injured In Cafe Protest Standoff

Armenian Lawmaker Said Injured In Cafe Protest Standoff

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 March 14, her colleague Arman Abovian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“When the scuffle between people and police began, the crowd moved back and Ms. Zohrabian fell. I pulled her out, but her foot was injured. She suffered quite a shock. Ms. Zohrabian was quickly taken away from there,” Abovian said.

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.

At least one protester and one police officer were briefly hospitalized and treated for injuries sustained in another clash earlier on March 14.

The police said 16 protesters were detained for “not complying with police officers’ lawful demands.”

The dismantling of two cafes, which began on March 13 came to a halt on March 14 after protesters obstructed the work of the demolition excavator.

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 outlets.

In a Facebook post earlier in the day Mayor Hayk Marutian vowed continuous efforts “to recover Yerevan’s cultural features.”

Abovian said Zohrabian was at the scene to ensure dialogue and mutual respect between the opposing sides in the standoff.

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