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Armenian President Asks Russian Minister to Look Into Activities of National Power Utility; Protesters Dissatisfied

RA President Serzh Sargsyan is pleased that protesters on Baghramyan Avenue in Armenian capital of Yerevan prove the absurdity of the assumptions of some experts, according to which, there are anti-Russian sentiments in these demonstrations, the Armenian president said on Friday, June 26, during a meeting with Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov in Yerevan.

Armenian authorities, as stated by Sargsyan, were forced to take such an unpopular step (increase of electricity tariffs), taking into account the inflation rate of the Armenian dram and the increase in the cost of energy produced.

According to the president's press service, Sargsyan urged the Armenian-Russian economic cooperation intergovernmental commission to pay particular attention to the activities of Russian companies in Armenia. The commission, the president said, should consider conducting a thorough audit of the activities of national electricity distribution company “Electric Networks of Armenia” (a subsidiary of the Russian Inter RAO UES), with the participation of expert community and civil society representatives.

In response to Sargsyan's proposal, Sokolov said that the intergovernmental commission would organize an audit of the company, with the assistance of experts and representatives of all interested parties. The audit, he added, would be conducted in an open and transparent manner, so as to make the results comprehensible to everyone. 

Commenting on the official press release, members of the “No to Robbery!” civic initiative announced late on Friday that the main demand of the demonstrations remained unchanged: electricity rates in Armenia should be decreased.

Conducting an audit, the protesters said, was an unessential measure, and the protesters not intend to revise their three demands. 

Note, “No to Robbery!” civic initiative had earlier presented Armenian authorities with a list of demands, urging them to “review and reverse the illegal decision by the RA Public Services Regulatory Commission to increase electricity rates in Armenia.”

In addition, the initiative demanded that the authorities review last year's decision to increase prices in order to annul it as well. The third demand was to hold offending law enforcement officers responsible for their violent actions on Baghramyan Avenue on the morning of June 23, and to punish those who gave them these illegal orders. 

“We must be vigilant and prepared to reach our victory. We will not succumb to provocations,” one of the protesters said.