“Aravot” reports on the Armenian utility regulators’ decision on Wednesday to raise the electricity prices by over 16 percent, which was criticized by both anti-government activists and the Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA) operator. The paper dismisses ENA director Yevgeny Bibin’s warnings that electricity supplies in Armenia will be at serious risk unless the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) approves a more drastic price rise. It suggests that the warning and its angry rejection by the PSRC chairman, Robert Nazarian, is just a game meant to sell the unpopular measure to ordinary Armenians. It says that Bibin “may only be pretending that he is angry in order to boost the approval ratings of the commission and the authorities in general.”
“168 Zham” similarly contends that the authorities can now use Bibin’s warnings to portray their 16 percent tariff rise as an act of “unprecedented heroism” stemming from the public’s interests. “But the reality is different,” writes the paper. “Faced with threats from the [domestic] public and the Russian-owned company [ENA,] the authorities succumbed to the latter. How will the public react to this decision? The answer to this question will become clear tomorrow during a planned demonstration [in Yerevan] against the tariff increase. For the authorities, only a big public outburst involving the masses can be more dangerous that Bibin’s threats.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” recalls the ENA’s privatization more than a decade ago, saying that the administration of then President Robert Kocharian made sure that the power distribution network is bought by Russian investors and remains a “cash cow for several government clans.” “The authorities fully achieved those two objectives,” says the paper.
“Having failed to hold the ENA accountable, the Armenian authorities have once gotten into the pockets of Armenia’s population,” writes “Zhamanak.” “Simply put, they have trampled underfoot our national and state dignity.”