The protest began a week ago, and now they have reached the government building and are demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister
Yerevan municipality has decided to get rid of mobile cafes “on wheels”.
Town hall cut off power to 47 of these cafes. Cafe owners who disagree with the decision have been. protesting for a whole week and have already organized a demonstration near the government building.
They are going to continue the protest until they meet with the Prime Minister or with one of his representatives.
Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan said that the city authorities will not allow for the opening new trailers, cafes, especially in parking lots:
“The country should develop, go forward, and not return to the 90s, when people could set up whatever, wherever they wanted.”
The mayor’s office says that many of these 47 mobile cafes work in violation of technical safety standards, which is why they were shut off from the grid.
Cafe owners recognize that their activities are not regulated by law, however demand that their activities not be limited until regulations are put into place. Such a proposal has been developed by the mayor’s office, but cafe owners and employees also demand that they be allowed to submit their own proposals and participate in the finalization of the law.
“At the moment, the activity of 47 mobile cafes has been suspended. We have already moved nine of them from the center of Yerevan and can free up their spots. However, we ask the mayor’s office to meet us halfway, including enabling businesses to work until the field is finally regulated”, said Aren Melikyan, head of the Union of Mobile Cafes.
Are city hall’s actions illegal?
The owners consider the actions of city hall illegal for the reason that they have fulfilled all their obligations – in particular when it comes to taxes.
“Mobile cafés operate in many advanced countries. Why are we not allowed to work? After the revolution, they said that they would do everything to develop small and medium businesses. I want to understand, what does it mean in their understanding to do everything?” the head of the Union of Mobile Cafes said.
In response, Hovik Safaryan, head of the trade and service department of the city mayor’s office, stated:
“Yerevan Municipality, as before, is interested in the development of small and medium-sized businesses, but not as illegal activities, which, as a result, can harm the residents of the capital.”
The protesters also said cutting off the power is illegal, as the mobile cafes had a direct agreement with the organization supplying electricity.
Meanwhile, Electric Networks of Armenia says their actions did not go beyond the scope of the law:
“Some had security problems, others consumed electricity after the expiration of the contract, that is, illegally.”
The opposition chimes in
The situation with mobile cafes was in the center of attention of the opposition.
Representatives of the Luys [Arm. light] faction of the Council of Elders of the city, that is, the city authorities, agree that the area should be regulated by law, but also say they disagree with the methods used by the city authorities.
“It is necessary to fix clear rules of the game. And we have been discussing legislative changes for several weeks. However, I consider power outages and similar methods unacceptable”, said David Khazhakyan, a representative of the Luys faction, to JAMnews.