Police in Armenian have dispersed a protest against electricity price hikes that was blocking a central avenue in the capital, Yerevan.

Several thousand demonstrators rallied Friday night, reigniting a two-week-long protest that was the most serious unrest the former Soviet nation had seen in years.

But early Saturday police unblocked the avenue. Police spokesman Ashot Agaronyan said 48 protesters who refused to disperse were detained, but were soon released.

The initial protests fizzled in early July after the government suspended the electricity rate increases. The demonstrators continue to demand that they be annulled entirely.

Armenia is closely allied with Russia, and its power grid is a subsidiary of a Russian electricity company. Organizers said they had no political motives, but Moscow has watched the rallies with concern.