The Turning Point?

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At tonight’s rally there were noticeably fewer people in attendance, perhaps a few thousand at the most. While walking through the crowd I discerned just how much people have become frustrated. Many kept demanding that change be made now rather than later, and asking “How?” whenever Raffi said that they would be victorious. The continuing comments transformed into mild heckling, and after a speech of about 30 minutes Raffi announced that on their way to Tsitsernakabert they would walk past the presidential palace on Baghramyan Street.

At the intersection of Tamanyan and Baghramyan Streets a wall of riot police blocking the entire street awaited. The participants in the march and the police were at an impass, with Raffi at the very front trying to negotiate with the police. Naturally the crowd was becoming anxious and wanted to push through, and I could see Jirayr Sefilian of the Sardarabad Movement trying to get people to retreat. Some people started hurling the candles that had been handed out to them for the trip to the Genocide monument at the police. Thankfully, there were no repercussions.

As people remained standing in the street anticipating the moment when they could move forward, a group of officers forcibly moved Raffi and his son back from the front line of contact, and there were negotiations for several minutes. Then abruptly he and several participants continued on towards Tsitsernakabert via Moscovyan Street.

As I write this, a crowd continues to be gathered at Baghramyan 1 and Raffi, having returned from Tsitsernakabert, has been negotiating with the police to allow the protesters to walk peacefully to Lover’s Park, past both the Presidential Palace and the National Assembly building, and back to Liberty Square. He was addressing the crowd with a defective bullhorn, making it clear that the protests must continue peacefully, and that they are waiting for an answer from the police (and of course Serzh Sargsyan). The next rally is Wednesday morning at 10:00 am.

Now the question is how far the Armenian people are willing to take this.

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All photos and video by Christian Garbis

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