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OPPOSITION BLASTS RECENT ECONOMIC DEALS WITH RUSSIA


By Anna Saghabalian
Several opposition members have criticized the Armenian authorities for continuing to yield the country’s economic potential to Russia in a bid to secure its favors during the upcoming elections.

Aram Manukian, a senior member of Armenia’s former ruling Armenian National Movement (HHSh) party, charged that the authorities are trying to preserve their illegitimate power by selling out the nation’s economic facilities.

In particular, he criticized the authorities for their recent energy deals that would give Russia’s state-run Gazprom monopoly a commanding share in Armenia’s natural gas distribution network and, most probably, the incoming gas pipeline from Iran.

“These steps are taken ahead of the national elections so that the Russian scenario works in the country once again,” Manukian said. “There are plenty of actors who would like to play the Russian scenario in Armenia.”

The leader of the Democratic Part of Armenia Aram Sarkisian also sees political reasons behind the sellout of strategically important economic facilities to Russia. He reminded the 2003 elections when unlike their western colleagues the CIS observer mission did not criticize the authorities for the poor conduct of the elections.

Member of parliament from the ruling Republican Party Armen Ashotian brushed aside the opposition accusations.

“The harshest criticism of the 2003 elections came from European and U.S. structures and it would be logical to try to appease them rather than Russia,” he said.
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