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A leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) criticized continuing street protest against transport price hikes in Yerevan on Tuesday, saying that foreign powers will use them to try to destabilize the country.

“We have more serious things to do than to revolt over [a bus fare increase of] 50 drams and destabilize the situation in the country. Why don’t those youths holding posters realize that they are being used to cause trouble in Armenia?” Razmik Zohrabian, an HHK deputy chairman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“Armenia is no superpower, and superpowers can easily stir up internal strife here,” Zohrabian said when asked to elaborate. “It’s not just about Russia,” he added. “A rivalry of civilizations is underway over whether Armenia should go for European integration or Russia’s customs union. So the fight of giants is getting some resonance on the ground here.”

While the HHK has unequivocally backed by the Armenian authorities’ controversial decision to raise bus fares in Yerevan, it was not immediately clear whether Zohrabian’s remarks reflect the official position of the party led by President Serzh Sarkisian.

Zohrabian is known for making blunt and extravagant statements. In particular, he used such language to denounce a campaign of post-election demonstrations staged by Raffi Hovannisian, Sarkisian’s main challenger in the February 2013 presidential ballot. The HHK vice-chairman claimed that Hovannisian’s opposition movement is guided by a malevolent religious “sect” and compared its actions to Satanism.

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