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Electricity Price Hike Protesters Demand Resignation Of Utilities Commission


Activists gather in Yerevan's main Republic Square to campaign against rising electricity prices

Activists gather in Yerevan's main Republic Square to campaign against rising electricity prices

An Armenian civil group campaigning against rising energy tariffs is demanding that current members of the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) resign after the utilities body failed to reverse its decision approving a 16-percent hike in electricity prices from August 1.

Following street protests in Yerevan earlier this summer the Armenian government agreed to subsidize the price hike, but protesters believe it is still taxpayer money being used as compensation to the loss-making Russian-owned company that manages Armenia’s power grid.

RiseUp Armenia, one of the more radical pressure groups that emerged out of the recent Electric Yerevan protests, plans a rally in Yerevan on August 11. It says it does not rule out that a demand for the government’s resignation will also be raised. The group, in particular, will soon come up with its assessment of the government’s move to use the money from the sale of one of Armenia’s largest power-generating facilities, Vorotan Hydro Cascade, to subsidize the electricity price increase pending the outcome of an international audit of the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA), a subsidiary of Russia’s Inter RAO. The enterprise was sold in May to the private U.S. energy company ContourGlobal for $180 million.

RiseUp Armenia activist David Hovannisian, meanwhile, says that they also want to introduce a culture of “durable struggle”. The group that has staged small-scale street protests since July 27 promises more demonstrations in the time to come.

“We will hold sit-ins, talking to people, gathering people in order to understand the issues together, we will try to unite and take new step in a united manner,” Hovannisian says.

According to the activist, in recent days RiseUp Armenia has been in active discussions with representatives of other civic initiatives campaigning against electricity price hikes.

Before the next rally RiseUp Armenia is going to continue its sit-in in Yerevan’s central Republic Square. On Wednesday, members of the group plan to march towards the PSRC building and submit a formal letter to the body demanding its resignation.

Activists believe that the government subsidy amounts to the Armenian government’s paying for the debts of the ENA, which only adds to corruption risks.

RiseUp Armenia insists that the decision on raising the tariffs be revoked.

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