Update from Yerevan

A month after  the successful protest actions against public transport fare hike, there are still ongoing demonstrations in Yerevan and the situation seems to escalate the last couple of days.

Firstly, there is a sit-in strike in front of the Municipality Hall demanding dismission of two officials: Henrik Navasardyan (the Head of Yerevan Municipality Transport Department) and Misak Hambardzumyan (the Director of Yerevantrans CJSC). Then, lately these activists (most of them are youngsters) also joined the residents of Komitas Street 5, who protest against the construction of a new “elite” flat building.

Yesterday protesters managed to block the street for a while. What happened after that is difficult to describe. The police arrested 26 activists. One of them was severely beaten in the police car on its way to the police station.

A couple of hours later, another 16 activists were arrested, this time in front of the Municipality Hall. This rather small group of activists intended to perform a  play called “Story of a Public transportation fare hike” (where they would mock on Taron Marhargan, Henrik Navasardyan and Misak Hambardzumyan).

As I was there and have seen the scene, I think the police acted quit fiercely (they immediately started to arrest the activists after some of them tried to get on the stairs in front of the doorway of the Municipality Hall). A girl was arrested only because she played on her drum.

Later that night 2 of the activists were beaten by a group of strangers.

The very same day the police released a  statement warning that they are going to use “special measures” against activists who “disturb public order”.

Meanwhile activists have called the arrests a “mass repression”. Several activists call to prepare against the “special measures” of the police.

First shots with my Zenit EM

Last weekend I bought a Zenit EM from the flee market of Yerevan (Vernissage). As Norayr told me: it’s the best way to start professional photography if you can’t afford an expensive digital camera.

So here are some of my first shots. Frankly, I haven’t used a photographic film for more than a decade and I never had my own SLR camera before. So don’t be too critical ։-)

Portrait of an Unborn Revolution

Portrait of an unborn revolution

While former presidential candidate Raffi Hovhannisyan entered the Presidential Palace to negotiate with the reelected president Serzh Sargsyan, probably thousands demonstrated on Bagramyan street shouting “Serzhik leave!”, “Raffi president!” and singing the anthem of the Republic of Armenia.

Sargsyan was officially declared winner of the presidential elections on 18 February 2013. International observers praised this elections as being democratic and well organized, but domestic observers, civil society representatives and opposition parties criticized them as not being fair and not democratic enough. They indicated that the ruling party, the Republican party of Armenia ― almost 70% of all municipal governors, as well many school principals, university rectors being members of this party ― (mis)used their administrative resources to get the incumbent president reelected. Irregularities and incidents of fraud were recorded by journalists and observers and actively shared on social media.

After negotiating with Serzh Sargsyan, Raffi Hovhannisyan called on the demonstrators to come to a next rally tomorrow (Friday) promising to unreveal the details of this negotiation and — as he phrased — the victory will be ours.

Many hope this means a long awaited revolution, while others are sceptical whether Hovhannisyan is able to act a a revolution leader.