YEREVAN. – The eighth night of the “Stand up, Armenia” citizens’ movement sit-in at Republic Square in capital city Yerevan, and against the electricity price hike in the country, passed peacefully, initiative member Shavarsh Margaryan on Tuesday told Armenian News-NEWS.am.
“We spent overnight with approximately ten people; everything went well,” said the activist. “There were policemen who were approaching us to see what we’re doing; passers-by also were approaching us.”
“Stand up, Armenia” Council member Davit Sanasaryan, who is also member of the opposition “Barev [Hello], Yerevan” faction at Yerevan Council, for his part, told us that the initiative will make a new statement Tuesday at the Republic Square.
The abovementioned citizens’ movement had announced on July 27 that it was starting a 72-hour sit-in at Republic Square. The police, however, do not permit them to approach the middle of the square.
The “Stand up, Armenia” initiative had stated that if the Public Services Regulatory Commission of Armenia does not revoke the decision to raise the electricity tariff in the country, they will start protests, conduct awareness visits to the provinces, and close off streets, as of July 27. Even though these 72 hours have passed, the activists are still at the square until they reach their objective and stage a sit-in in the middle of Republic Square.
Despite numerous protests, the PSRC of Armenia recently increased the price of electricity in the country by 6.93 drams—instead of 17 drams, proposed by the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) CJSC—, per cubic meter, and this decision took affect on August 1. But the decision is expected to be followed by an increase in the prices of numerous products and services in the country.
President Serzh Sargsyan, however, stated that the government will subsidize this price hike until an audit is conducted at the ENA, which supplies electricity to the country’s residents and whose proprietor is the Russian state-owned Inter RAO UES Company. Sargsyan also said should the audit show that the aforesaid increase in electricity tariff is unjustified, he does not rule out returning the ENA to the Armenian government and transferring it to competitive management.