by Karina Manukyan
A public interest group "Internal National Liberation Movement" has emerged recently and demands the government to compensate high gas tariffs for the population. At present Armenia imports Russian gas for $189 per 1000 cu m on the border (internal tariff of Russia), while consumers are supplied with gas for $393 per 1000 cu m. Starting July 2013 gas tariff for the Armenian consumers grew by 30%.
The founder of the public interest group Vahan Martirosyan told reporters on 9 April that the population is reluctant to pay for air due to such strange calculations. He slammed the government for the country's $300 million debt for gas, which was made public only in late 2013. To repay for the debt, the Government sold its last 20% stake in ArmRusgasprom to Gazprom, Russia.
According to Martirosyan, no one of the country's officials manages to explain properly why the government concealed from the public that it owed $300 million to Russia. The public has lost any trust in the government. Martirosyan said that the newly created public interest group will be rallying in the Liberty Square on 10 April to raise gas-related issues.
Eduard Zorikyan, a well-known bard, said in turn that the authorities have caught the pockets of every citizen amid heavy the social situation in the country. People have to pay astronomic amounts for gas despite their low salaries and pensions.
To recall, the Armenian Government's last 20% share in ArmRusgasprom were sold to Russia's Gazprom in the course of Vladimir Putin's visit to Armenia overnight. Actually, ArmRusgasprom is now Gazprom's subsidiary. The deal allowed Gazprom to deliver gas to Armenia on the internal Russia tariffs i.e. for $189 per 1000 cu m on the border. The Government of Russia comes out as a guarantor of gas supply to Armenia by Gazprom OJSC to satisfy the country's need for gas subject to timely payment for the imported gas. According to the agreement, in 2014-2018 Armenia will receive 2.5bln c m a year against 1.7bln c m in 2012. Earlier on 7 July 2013 Russia increased gas tariff for Armenia from 180 to 270 US dollars per 1000 cu m. afterwards the regulator increased the gas tariff for consumers.