YEREVAN, March 15. /ARKA/. Police in Armenia’s capital Yerevan have detained today 16 people for “not complying with police officers’ lawful demands.” The detainees were protesting against the decision of the Yerevan Municipality to dismantle several cafes near the Opera House, Edgar Janoyan, a police spokesman, told Novosti Armenia news agency.
The dismantling of the cafes was launched on March 13 and resumed today morning with the use of heavy equipment.
Owners and employees of the cafes tried to prevent it by blocking traffic in the downtown Mashtots Avenue and Tumanyan Street, but law enforcement officers pushed them off the roadway.
“The administration of Yerevan has every reason to dismantle these cafes,” the prefect of the Kentron administrative district Viktor Mnatsakanyan told reporters. Earlier Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan, said the green zone around the Opera House should be free of cafes and restaurants.
Mnatsakanyan explained that the owners of the cafes, which are located in the proximity of the Opera House, had been informed a month in advance that their lease of land would be terminated.
‘The owners need to remember that this territory is a public park, a place of rest,” said Mnatsakanyan.
The owners claim that the dismantling would make some 300 people unemployed.
Earlier, the press secretary of the mayor’s office, Hakob Karapetyan, said that on December 13, 2018, the city administration had sent notifications to five cafes, who used to lease land next to the Opera House, warning that according to their contracts, the lease would be discontinued in 30 days.
Earlier, Marutyan announced plans to dismantle all cafes and restaurants located in close proximity to the Opera House in order to restore the “green zone” there.
According to media reports, at least one protester and one police officer were injured in the standoff today. Both were reportedly taken to hospital for treatment. -0-