Armenia suspends to increase electricity bills

Armenia has suspended an increase in household electricity rates in an effort to end the protests that have blocked the capital Yerevan's main avenue

Armenia suspends to increase electricity bills

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Armenia's president tried to ease days of tension by suspending an increase in public electricity bills, pending a review of the decision, but failed to end a protest by thousands of people.

President Serzh Sargsyan told a meeting of senior officials that the 22-percent tariff rise would go into force but the government would cover the extra "burden" instead of the public until an independent audit of the decision was completed.

"We will all discuss (the offer) all night ... and call on people to mobilise tomorrow," said Vaghinak Shushanyan, one of the coordinators of the protest.

"Shall we stay for the night, carry on the fight?" he asked the demonstrators, who want the increase scrapped altogether. The crowd, which police put at 6,000, replied in unison: "Yes."

The protest has increased social tensions in the cash-strapped southern Caucasus nation of 3.2 million which was once part of the Soviet Union and has been hit hard by an economic downturn in Russia, its main ally.

Sargsyan said an independent audit would determine whether the planned increase was justified.

Calling for an end to the protests, he said: "We have much to do, and we must work together to complete this difficult process."

The crowd, which has tended to dwindle during the day but swell again at night, has been using rubbish bins as barricades, and protesters carry posters with slogans such as "I'm not going to pay! Will you?" and "Stop robbing people!"

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Haziran 2015, 10:29