Politics 19:31 25/06/2015

Protesters against power tariff hike in Armenia have no claims to Russia – A. Iskandaryan

When commenting on the fact that Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) Company that submitted an application for a rise in electricity tariffs in Armenia is a daughter company of Russia’s Inter RAO UES, political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan said that it does not necessarily mean the protesters have claims to Russia.

“Stereotypical thinking leads people to assume that if it is a Russian company, there must be an anti-Russian component. I suppose that some people can say anything and that one can always find people who show their emotions that way. Yet there is simply no background for widespread anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia,” the expert said.

He invited attention to the fact that the demonstrators have appealed to the authorities, the president, rather than they “gather outside the office of Electric Networks of Armenia”. Protesters also believe that it is up to the Armenian authorities to deal with the problem of the Russian company, Iskandaryan added.

He stressed that it is a social protest, not a political one, and it was the power price hike that prompted people to take to the streets.
“It does not resemble the Ukrainian maidan. Maindan had a different, foreign political nature, but here the character of protests is domestic: it is annoyance with the economic situation. An economic stagnation has been observed in the country since 2008. The country remained in that situation for long, and there is growing annoyance with the economic scheme. Of course, it is a specific rise in prices which is a pretext, rather than a cause,” the expert noted.

“In Armenia there is a culture of street political activity. Rallies have been staged regularly since 1991. A culture of achieving something through rallies does exist in Armenia. A year ago a pension reform was scrapped. Rallies against the gas price increase took place in Yerevan, and the decision on transport fare hike was suspended. People are accustomed to the fact they can take to the streets and gain their end in some cases. True, they may not gain it, either,” Iskandaryan said.

It should be noted that amid numerous statements of Russian politicians, MPs and senators about some similarities with the Ukrainian maidan and intrigues of ‘external forces’, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on June 24 that statements to the effect that the situation in Armenia was provoked from outside need to be proven. “We will carefully examine everything that preceded it, but I would not jump to conclusions,” he said.

As was reported, Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) Company earlier submitted a bid to the Public Services Regulatory Commission about a rise in electricity tariffs. The parliamentary opposition considers it unfounded and serving the interests of that company. The current night-time tariff for the population is 31.85 drams per one KWh, the daytime tariff is 41.85 drams. The bid of ENA proposed raising the tariffs to 48 and 58 drams respectively. Yet the Commission satisfied the bid of ENA only partially on June 17. The tariffs in Armenia will increase by 6.93 drams, and not by 17 drams. The Commission’s decision will take force on August 1, 2015. The decision triggered non-stop protests staged by ‘No to Robbery’ civic initiative. The participants demand that the head of state revoke the Commission’s decision, which at the same time does not suit ENA Company as well. Rally participants say that their protest is purely social by nature.



Source Panorama.am
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