Naira Mamikonian

Aravot, Armenia
Nov 8 2006

Serge Sargsian asks for certain examples when the Russian party
manages to use its economic levers for political purposes.

Serge Sargsian, the RA Defense Minister and the cochairman of
Armenian-Russian economic intergovernmental commission in answer to
the question that "taking into consideration that the Russian party
manages to use its economic levers for political purposes, doesn't he
have any apprehension that the share of Russian capital is added and
important strategic objects become Russian?" said; "I don't consider
it dangerous. Because I haven't seen yet how the Russian party uses
its economic levers. Give me an example, when the Russian capital
in Armenia has made pressure on us". In answer to S. Sargsian's this
question, it isn't difficult to give a lot of examples, such as the
fact of rise in gas price. Russia announced about its intention to
raise the gas price from $56 to $110 at the beginning of last winter.

It isn't secret any more that it was the answer to the RA authorities
attempt for diversification of risks in power sphere. The point is
that the RA government has given its privilege to Iranian "MAR"
and "Sanir" companies after long negotiations in two contests of
Iran-Armenia gas pipeline construction and project of modernization of
the5th Thermal Power Plant in Hrazdan. But suddenly Russian "Gasprom"
state company appeared and wanted to participate in the contest with
a joint consortium. Russians simply blackmailed the RA authorities,
imposing certain conditions. They bought the 5 th Thermal Power Plant
by $250 million, at the expense of which the RA authorities will
manage to subsidize the expenses of gas users in case of rising in
gas price. As a result, the Russians didn't only owned the 5th Thermal
Power Plant but were subsidized at our expense and strengthened their
position in the power market of Armenia. The blackmail wasn't obvious,
that's why the Armenian officials kept silence.

Vahagn Khachatrian, the RA first President's advisor in economic
issues and NA former deputy gave another example. The latter reminded
that the Russian supply of energy for the atomic station was stopped
for the accumulated debts. We should remind that the RA authorities
had to give the Russians Sevan-Hrazdan cascade. "He knows very well,
that economic levers are the best way of political blackmail", - Mr.
Khachatrian said alluding to Serge Sargsian. "That threat will always
be a danger for us", - V. Khachatrian assured.

Economist Eduard Aghajanov gave one more example, reminding "Estate
instead of debt" agreement. "Russian entered its strategic partner's
land, our home, and demanded our strategic objects instead of $97
million debt. While Russia ignored other debts to other countries,
$40million to Turkey, Syria etc.", - Aghajanov said.

Stepan Grigorian noticed, "the Russians have taken our objects and
neither operate them nor make investments, what means those factories
have simply been conserved. It isn't important for me the reasons
are political or economic. Why should I believe that The Russian
will act in the same way in case of selling the Armenian Railways,
Armenian-Iranian gas pipeline or "ArmenTel" or they will be operated
more effectively? And in general, what a way of answer it is "give
examples" when it is spoken about the security of Armenia,"- Mr.
Grigorian said.