Angry Armenians 'electrify' Yerevan

Armenians have given birth to #ElectricYerevan, a subversive protest brand, over government plans to hike power prices.


    It took a counter-productive water cannon, a one-fingered salute and a flash of Twitter inspiration.

    Armenians have given birth to #ElectricYerevan, a subversive protest brand, and because of the summer heat that has come early to the capital, it's an all-night party.

    By day, a dedicated few dozen protesters guard their tree-lined territory, a short walk from key government buildings, and the presidential administration. The police have formed a thin line on the other side of a barricade of garbage skips.

    Then as the evening approaches, the singing gets louder and the carnival begins. And though a grandmother grimaces at the rock band playing lustily to the crowd which has now swelled to thousands, she doesn't look like she is about to leave.

    For the anger is shared by young and old alike. Armenia's government has asked its impoverished citizens to foot a $250m bill chalked up by a power grid whose own public documents reveal gross misspending.

    The protesters' chief demand is that an electricity rate rise be abandoned but there is also a desire for fundamental change in Armenia's political system.

    This is not Armenia's Maidan moment - yet

    And that political system is underpinned by Russian patronage. Russia's military base acts as a deterrent to Armenia's old foe Azerbaijan. Then there is the ownership of key Armenian assets by Russian companies - including the electricity grid.

    Russian media and officials have started comparing Yerevan to Kiev, speaking of 'Western-backed' revolutionaries. Russian interests are at stake.

    Those electric Yerevanis say this is no Ukrainian Maidan moment, though they still risk being jolted by a jilted Kremlin.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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