Some 100 people showed up in Gyumri yesterday morning to halt the showing of an Azerbaijani film festival due to take place at the Asparez Club.
Georgi Vanyan, who heads the Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives, one of the organizers along with the U.S. Embassy, was confronted by the demonstrators and politely told to “get lost”.
The protest was organized by the local ARF branch.
Young protestors sang patriotic songs and ripped up an Azerbaijani flag.
Vanyan declared that he would stay at the Asparez Club until the scheduled start of the festival at 3pm.
“Even if only one person shows up, the films will be shown,” said Vanyan.
Seeing that there was a stand-off, a group of Gyumri residents and local media reps decided to act as mediators. They too advised Vanyan to leave the premises since no one was going to attend the festival.
A heated debate took place around the negotiations table and a fight almost broke out.
Vanyan declared that he didn’t expect the residents of Gyumri to be so “savage”. In response, he was advised to “pack up and leave”.
At 1pm, Vanyan declared that he was indeed leaving and wanted police guarantees for his safe exit out of Gyumri.
As he left the building, protestors pelted Vanyan with eggs and booed.
Vanyan ducked into a waiting car and sped off.
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