WORLD
Will this be the Yerevan Maidan?
25 June, 2015
"It starts with us giving them the finger!”

A several thousand-strong civil protest held in front of President Serj Sargsian’s palace in Yerevan, Armenia, was violently dispersed by the police. More than 200 people were arrested, though the protesters declare this is not going to stop them, warning of “imminent social conflict.”

“Our Country Belongs To Us and Nobody Else!”

The turmoil began with the government’s decision to impose higher tariffs on electricity – a whopping 22 percent increase that
was to take effect on August 1st. The Russian-owned company that monopolized Armenia’s electricity network justified the decision by claiming it was a necessary increase caused by the sharp devaluation of Armenian currency, the dram.
Georgian Journal’s correspondent in Yerevan spoke with some of the protestors. One of them is Maks Sargsyan, who claims that the Tbilisi-Yerevan highway has been blocked by government forces to prevent volunteers from regions from joining the demonstrations.

Maks Sargsyan:

– We were violently – I’d even say brutally – dispersed. This was a belligerent attempt to break our will, but we will withstand that. We’ve got nothing to lose – we are moving backwards day by day and soon, with these new tariffs, all our earnings will be spent on the most basic of needs, such as food. They tell us that due to our geographic location, we have no allies but Russia. And in the meantime, people in neighboring countries build democratic state institutions. In Georgia, they aspire to join NATO, while we still live in the Soviet Union. And Russia has the gall to try and to make us pay for that.
Russia only needs Armenia for its military base and as a pawn in its grand imperial schemes. But we want to live in a state, not in Russian military barracks. When the police used water cannons, we showed them our middle fingers. And I tell you, this is how a Yerevan Maidan will start – by us giving them the finger. My friends and I were beaten up with rubber batons, but this is not going to stop us.

Mark Armanian:

– I was beaten up too. In fact, I barely survived. They had no intention of letting us escape and wanted to teach us a lesson. But their “lessons” aren’t enough to scare us away. People come here not just because the tariffs were raised but also because of rampant corruption. Sadly, our older generation doesn’t share our aspirations and I can see why. They were the ones who led us to the reality we now live in – with Russia and its “peacekeepers.” Moscow owns it all: Railways, power plants and almost every object of strategic importance. It’s no longer about political maneuverability on our part; it’s simply turning a blind eye to indirect annexation! That is why we are here: to show and to say that our country belongs to us and nobody else.

Author: Larisa Abramyan
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