YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Owners and employees of several cafes in Yerevan are protesting the decision of the city authorities to dismantle the property located in the vicinity of the Opera House that the municipality believes should be free from commercial facilities.
The dismantling began on March 13 — four weeks after the Yerevan Mayor’s Office formally notified the cafe owners that they should vacate the premises and leave the area.
The demolition work with the use of heavy equipment continued in the area adjacent to Freedom (Opera) Square on Thursday.
A number of employees of the cafes briefly blocked traffic in one of Yerevan’s central streets on March 14 as a sign of protest against the actions of the city authorities. “It is inhumane to deprive people of their daily earnings,” said one angry woman who participated in the picket.
Police put a cordon to keep the protesters off the road. Meanwhile, some of the disgruntled cafe workers demanded a meeting with Mayor Hayk Marutyan.
Marutyan, who became mayor after his political team backed by popular Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan polled over 80 percent in municipal elections last fall, insists that the green zone around the Opera House, one of the landmark buildings in central Yerevan, should not be overburdened with commercial property.