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Freedom Square, Yerevan

General view

The Freedom Square or Liberty Square (Armenian: Ազատության հրապարակ, Azatut'yan hraparak), also known as Opera Square and Theatre Square (Թատերական հրապարակ, T'aterakan hraparak) until 1991, is a town square located in Kentron (Center) district of Yerevan, Armenia. The square is part of the Yerevan Opera Theater complex, located just to the south of the main opera building, between the opera park and the Swan lake. Along with the Republic Square, the Freedom Square is one of the two main squares in central Yerevan. It is bordered with four streets: Tumanyan Street, Teryan Street, Sayat Nova Avenue and Mashtots Avenue. The statues of writer Hovhannes Tumanyan and composer Alexander Spendiaryan are located in the square.

In politics

Called the "symbol of democracy" in Armenia,[1] the square can hold an estimated 42,000–45,000[2] to 50,000 people.[3]

1988: Karabakh movement

The semi-circular square is known for its prominent role in modern history of Armenia. Since the Karabakh movement in February 1988, the Freedom Square has become a center of popular demonstrations. To suppress the demonstrations the square was closed down several times within 1988 by Soviet police and military forces.[4][5][6]

Post-election protests

After Armenia's independence in 1991 the square has been the main location of anti-government rallies, especially following presidential elections in 1996, 2003, 2008, and 2013.

In the aftermath of the disputed 2008 presidential election, thousands of supporters of opposition leader and Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan gathered in the square and began sit-ins. In the early morning of March 1, 2008 these peaceful protests were violently dispersed by the police and the square was closed down for civilians.[7] For around 20 days, the square remained under occupation by police and armed forces to enforce the state of emergency. Subsequently, it was closed down for rallies for over three years, until March 17, 2011 when Ter-Petrosyan's Armenian National Congress staged a large rally.[8]

Underground parking lot

On August 28, 2008[9] the Armenian government made a decision to start a construction of an underground parking lot beneath the square to relieve the surrounding streets where parked cars often complicate the traffic. The opposition claimed the decision was intended to prevent demonstration there, although the government denied these allegations. The three-storey parking lot for up to 500 cars was opened on May 24, 2010 in attendance of Mayor Gagik Beglaryan and President Serzh Sargsyan. The project cost about $10.5 million.[10][11]

Gallery

References

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