Police and protestors clash in Yerevan

Peaceful Assembly

Protestors clashed with police on the streets of Yerevan in late July, following the takeover of a police station. Increasing numbers of people gathered in support of the group of armed hostage takers who made a series of demands, including the release from prison of an opposition politician, before surrendering on 31st July. One policeman was killed during the standoff. To disperse the crowds, police fired tear gas and arrested over sixty protestors including Hovsep Khurshudyan, a prominent civil society leader and member of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum's steering committee.

Expression

According to news reports, 29 journalists were injured while covering the clashes between demonstrators and the police in late July. Among them were three Radio Free Europe journalists. Some reported that police officers hit them despite knowing they were journalists. In a public statement, Armenia's president apologised to journalists for the incident, however he asked them to 'just forget about these events' without giving any assurance that the police officers responsible would be held accountable for their actions.

On 7th August, the Medialab web portal organised an open air cartoon exhibition of prominent political figures in Freedom Square, having being refused permission to rent an indoor space because of a fear of repercussions. Later that evening the cartoons were stolen from the car of Medialab director and Guardian journalist Marianna Grigoryan. Ms. Grigoryan believes that the theft of the caricatures was an attempt to intimidate the group and dissuade it from engaging in political satire.