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Armenia police disperse protest over power price hikes

23 june 2015, 12:49

Riot police in the Armenian capital early Tuesday used water cannon to disperse several hundred demonstrators protesting a government hike in electricity prices, an AFP journalist reported.

On Monday some 4,000 protesters marched towards the presidential palace to protest against a 16-percent hike in power tariffs for households, accusing President Serzh Sarkisian's government of failing to stem poverty in the landlocked Caucasus nation.

Several hundred people remained overnight, holding a sit-in and blocking traffic.

Scores of riot police moved to disperse the demonstrators in the early morning hours on Tuesday, beating some with rubber batons and shooting water cannons to force the crowd to leave.

Dozens of people were detained and plainclothes police beat journalists, destroying or confiscating their equipment.

A country of 3.2 million, Armenia has been badly affected by the economic crisis in Russia. Exports to Russia have fallen, as have remittances from Armenians working there.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed to prolong damaging economic sanctions against Russia until January 2016 over Moscow's role in the Ukrainian crisis.

In January, Armenia joined the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union, further increasing Yerevan's dependence on its former imperial master.

The ex-Soviet country is economically isolated as its borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are blocked due to ongoing international disputes.

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