Activists Reject Armenian President Plan on Energy Price Hike

YEREVAN (—Bowing to pressure from thousands of protesters blocking a central Yerevan avenue for the sixth consecutive day, President Serge Sarkisian announced on Saturday that his government will effectively suspend a controversial rise in electricity prices in Armenia.

Sarkisian said the government will keep the tariffs unchanged for consumers by subsidizing their increased cost at least until the release of findings of an international audit of Armenia’s Russian-owned power distribution network.

Speaking at an emergency meeting with senior government officials, he said he remains “deeply convinced” that state regulators were right to raise the tariffs by more than 17 percent last week. He said he opted for the “meticulous” audit in an effort to address a lack of popular trust in the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) utility and Armenian state bodies dealing with the energy sector.

The audit, he went on, will determine whether the more than 17 percent price hike approved by state regulators last week was economically justified or resulted from alleged corruption and mismanagement in the ENA. The loss-making company will be held accountable if it is found guilty of forcing households and corporate consumers to bear the financial burden of fraud among its senior executives, he said.

Conversely, the Armenian government will stop covering the extra cost of power supplies if the ENA is cleared of major wrongdoing, added the president. He gave no estimates as to the monetary value of the subsidy, saying only that the government will tap into “funds that were set aside for further strengthening our security.”

Accordingly, Sarkisian called for an end to the nonstop protests on Marshal Bagramian Avenue, one of Yerevan’s main arteries leading to the presidential palace. He also urged young leaders of the protests to get involved in the planned audit and reiterated his offer to meet them and discuss their demands.

“It is inadmissible to go over the top; the police are capable of accomplishing any task,” Sarkisian warned in a thinly veiled threat to forcibly end the protests.

“For God’s sake, please stop paralyzing the city center,” he said. “The burden of responsibility born by all of us would only increase. Switch to more serene actions. Unblock Bagramian Avenue.”

Activists of the No To Plunder movement, which organized the protests, were not satisfied with Sarkisian’s latest offer to defuse the crisis, saying that it did not meet their main demand for the decision on the tariff rise to be revoked. One of them, Vaghinak Shushanian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that they are calling on Armenians to turn out on Marshal Baghramian Avenue on Sunday for a vote at 6 p.m. local time that will determine their attitude towards the plan and further actions.

Meanwhile, the thousands of people rallying on Marshal Bagramian Avenue were in no rush to disperse and unblock the street.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. When a small group of rightful protesters turn into a mob, the focus of the mission to bring justice for a cause gets blurred. Trouble makers take over reasoning power. That may be true in this case.
    The Government seems to have made efforts to reconcile differences. Not enough? For the protesters i.e. only those Armenians who are affected by it, rather than claim reversal of the tax hike and stay focused on the singular event, create noise and impasse. Thus allowing instigators to
    pursue chaos for chaos to stay.
    This particular mob seems to be in need of creative leader(s) who promote goodwill and calm. Armenians do not need more “vassag”s.

  2. This is getting absurd. According to a World Bank (not a friend of Russia) report in 2013, “Armenia’s energy sector has achieved a level of electricity reliability, service quality and efficiency of sector operations that stands out among countries participating in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Much of this can be attributed to a decade of regulatory reform including a long-standing commitment to cost-recovery tariffs.”

  3. I must say how deeply impressed I am by our young brothers over in Yerevan. These brothers have a lot of heart, maybe even too much heart. Despite all of the police suppression they encountered in the early stages of their protests, these brothers still continued to go full blast in protesting for an entire week; and they’re still continuing!

    “It is inadmissible to go over the top.” How amusing it is that Sargsyan would make such a statement to these protesters, when it happens to actually be his perverse regime who’s gone over the top by continuously neglecting the citizens of Armenia and doing absolutely nothing to deal with the domestic problems which threaten Armenia’s national security. Therefore, the citizens of Armenia have every right to be enraged at their neglectful government, and to congregate together in the center of Yerevan and conduct protests until their demands are met. And if their demands are not met, this already explosive situation will proceed to become even worse for Sargsyan.

    “The police are capable of accomplishing any task.” Not quite Serzh! There’s only so much abuse and neglect that the citizens of Armenia are able to tolerate until they really explode and come after him in an all-out blitz. And when that moment finally arrives, the Yerevan police department will certainly not have the strength to repel this kind of all-out blitz against Sargsyan. Not only will this gigantic group of enraged citizens succeed in making it all the way to the front door of his sumptuous palace, but in addition, they’ll tear down his palace into pieces while he’s inside it.

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