Armenia protesters hold firm after PM rejects demands

Armenia protesters hold firm after PM rejects demands
Updated 26 June 2015

Armenia protesters hold firm after PM rejects demands

Armenia protesters hold firm after PM rejects demands

YEREVAN: Hundreds of Armenian protesters maintained a vigil near the presidential palace on Friday after some 12,000 flooded the capital the night before in the biggest anti-government rally in years.
Thousands of demonstrators have rallied in the capital Yerevan and several other cities for the past week against a government decision to hike electricity prices in a country already hit hard by the economic crisis in neighboring Russia.
The ranks of protesters swelled after Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan Thursday rejected their demand to reverse the move, saying the increase was aimed at avoiding power cuts which would “lead to irreparable consequences for the country’s economy.”
“We are ready to stay here for many more days and nights,” one of the young protesters, Hayk Petrosyan, told AFP. “We are getting stronger and stronger. The government must not hope that we will get tired and halt our fight.”
At dawn, demonstrators — mainly young people — tidied up after themselves, sweeping the street. Some played ball while others sang songs and played guitar.
Anger has long simmered over the government’s failure to lift the Caucasus nation of 3.2 million out of poverty but the decision to hike household electricity prices by more than 16 percent from August proved the last straw.
The protests started last Friday and gained momentum after hundreds of riot police moved in early Tuesday to break up a rally using water cannon.
Washington, Brussels and the OSCE all expressed concern over the violence.
Much of the anger has been directed at Armenia’s cash-strapped power distribution company owned by a Russian holding which is controlled by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, Igor Sechin.
Some of the placards read, “No to plunder” and “Bibin go home,” a reference to the Russian-controlled company’s director.