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Riots in Armenia designed to 'squeeze' Russia out of Caucasus

June 29, 2015, 19:56 UTC+3 TSKHINVAL
It is impossible to call the current events in Armenia, which is Russia’s friend and partner, incidental, South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov says
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© Hrant Khachatryan/PAN Photo via AP

TSKHINVAL, South Ossetia, June 29 /TASS/. South Ossetia has only one goal — to preserve its state, people and the relations, which it has established with Russia, which is a strategic partner, and remain a reliable support for it on Russia’s southern fringes, South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov said after meeting the heads of the defence ministry and law enforcers on Monday.

According to him, the recent riots in Armenia are a fresh attempt to "squeeze" Russia out of the Caucasus. "It is impossible to call the current events in Armenia, which is Russia’s friend and partner, incidental," Tibilov said.

"Western countries have not given up intentions or attempts, to be more precise, to weaken and undermine Russia’s strong and solid positions in the world arena. This applies to all allies of Russia, including South Ossetia," Tibilov stressed.

"We should pay special attention to the republic’s young people in the first place. They are the most vulnerable group, "the South Ossetian president said.

Protests in Armenia

The Armenian capital of Yerevan has been a scene of mass protest rallies for the past seven days. The biggest crowds gathered outside the House of Writers on the Marshal Bagramyan prospect, which was barricaded with plastic garbage containers.

The riots erupted after the Commission for regulation of the country’s public services had agreed to increase public electricity tariffs by 16% at a meeting on June 17 to meet the request received from CJSC "Electric Networks of Armenia" Distribution Company, a subsidiary of RAO UES INTERNATIONAL. The measure which is to take effect on August 1 caused a wave of indignation among ordinary Armenians who assumed that the electricity price hike would automatically increase prices for essentials and many services. Armenia’s opposition forces used that public discontent to stage mass protests in central Yerevan.

The first protest rally against the planned rise in electricity tariffs took place in Yerevan on June 17. Similar protests were held in other major cities in Armenia on June 19. Eighteen people, including 11 policemen, were hurt in the rallies. Police detained 237 protesters who were set free soon. However, the demonstrators returned to the Marshal Bagramyan prospect almost immediately after their release to join a peaceful rally that has been on for seven days.

On June 27, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said that the government was ready to cover the expenses linked to the rise in electricity tariffs until experts did finish the audit of the Electric Networks of Armenia operations. That led to a split in the protesters’ camp: half of the protesters accepted the president’s proposals and relocated to Independence Square outside the Yerevan Opera Theatre. The other half of radically-minded protesters who turned down the proposal pledged to stay on the Marshal Bagramyan prospect until all their demands were met.

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