Russia has called on the Armenian authorities to make concessions to thousands of people holding nonstop demonstrations in Yerevan against the latest increase in electricity prices in Armenia.
Significantly, a senior Russian official also disputed claims by some Russian pro-government politicians and pundits that Western powers are behind the continuing standoff between Armenian protesters and riot police.
“We count on the common sense and wisdom of the Armenian leadership,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said late on Wednesday, according to the RIA Novosti agency. “According to our information, one can expect that a compromise decision on issues raised by the demonstrators will be found.”
“We are awaiting news from Yerevan,” added Karasin. He did not specify whether the Russian government is ready to assist in such a settlement.
Armenia’s power distribution network, the driving force behind the more than 16 percent price rises, belongs to a subsidiary of RAO Unified Energy Systems (UES), Russia’s leading electric utility owned by the state.
The nonstop protests in Yerevan have prompted comparisons in Russia with the 2013-2014 “Euromaidan” movement in Ukraine that resulted in the overthrow of its pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich. Moscow strongly condemned the popular uprising as a Western conspiracy to undermine its influence in the ex-Soviet space. Some state-run Russian media as well as pro-Kremlin politicians and commentators have alleged that the West has organized the Armenian standofffor the same purpose.
Karasin cast doubt on the credibility of these claims, saying that they “need to be proved.” “We will be carefully looking into everything that preceded [the Yerevan protests,] but I wouldn’t jump into such hasty conclusions,” he said.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Moscow is “very closely” monitoring the dramatic developments in Armenia and hopes that there will be no “violations of the law.”