Opposition Calls Russian Gas Deal Vote ‘Invalid’

Pro-government deputies vote by hand on a controversial Russian gas agreement

YEREVAN—The pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament ratified on Monday a highly controversial gas agreement with Russia in a vote which was denounced as invalid by Armenia’s leading opposition forces and sparked fresh street protests.

The deal, which critics consider a serious blow to Armenia’s sovereignty, was backed by 77 members of the 131-seat National Assembly mainly representing President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Just before the vote, deputies from the three opposition parties represented in the assembly as well as the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) walked out of the main parliament auditorium in protest.

The pro-government lawmakers decided to vote by hand, instead of using the customary electronic voting system, after it emerged that some of them had their plastic magnetic cards taken away by one of their outspoken opposition colleagues, Zaruhi Postanjian of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.

The parliament minority leaders seized upon this fact to declare the vote null and void. In a joint statement, they cited the National Assembly’s statutes stipulating that if the electronic system is not used votes should be counted by a special parliamentary commission. They argued that the vote count was done instead by parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian and his two deputies.

“The treaty has not been ratified,” read the statement signed by Postanjian, BHK’s Naira Zohrabian, Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), and Armen Rustamian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).

“The Russian Federation, the outside world must be aware that the agreement has not been ratified,” Nikol Pashinian, another opposition deputy not affiliated with any of these four parties, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“If anybody transfers any assets of the Republic of Armenia to somebody else on the basis of this non-ratified agreement, we will deal with that somebody in a proper manner,” warned Pashinian.

The deal in question, which was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Armenia, formalizes the sale of the Armenian government’s 20 percent share in the domestic gas distribution network to Russia’s Gazprom monopoly. In return, Gazprom will write off a $300 million debt, which the government has incurred as a result of secretly subsidizing the price of Russian natural gas supplied to Armenia since 2011.

More important, the deal stipulates that the current and future Armenian governments cannot raise taxes or make any other changes in the regulatory environment for the Gazprom-owned network until January 2044. The Armenian side is also obliged to ensure that domestic gas tariffs in the country are high enough for Gazprom to recoup 9 percent of its capital investments in the network annually.

These unprecedented privileges have prompted vehement objections from opposition members and anti-government activists opposed to Armenia’s planned accession to a Russian-led customs union. Hundreds of them demonstrated outside the parliament building in Yerevan on Monday.

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9 Comments

  1. bayrakiniyakan said:

    ՄԻ ՄՈՌԱՑԵՔ, ՈՐ ՀԱՅԵՐԸ ԸՆԴՄԱՆԵԸ 20 ՏՈԿՈՍԻ ՏԵՐՆ ԷԻՆ, ԹԵԼԱԴՐՈՂԸ ՎԱՂՈՒՑ 80 ՏՈԿՈՍԻ ՏԵՐՆ ԷՐ: ԻՆՉԻ՞ ՄԱՍԻՆ Է ԱՅՍ ԱՂՄՈՒԿԸ ԵՎ ՈՎՔԵՐ ԵՆ ԴԱ ԿԱԶՄԱԿԵՐՊՈՒՄ:

  2. armenian said:

    We’re running the little piece of the earth we have left in our possession, and literally giving our sovereignty to Russia and allowing them to leave a gargantuan stick up our ass in the process, yet we talk about “getting our lands back” from Turkey? For what? The Turks will never give those lands back because their leadership has something that ours doesn’t: self-respect and the importance of the nation, not self interests. What are you going to do with those lands? Are we planning on giving that to Russia, too? These vermin are blood-sucking, cancerous leeches. In about 20 years from now, this moment will be the beginning of our end, and we’ll have the fanatic Russophiles to thank for that. Don’t be surprised if Azerbaijan or Turkey somehow coerce Russia into selling out Armenia a few years down the line. Then we’ll see what we can do when we won’t have a country at all.

  3. john said:

    Same old baseless hysterics by so called opposition. This is the only skill: theatrics. Sure as hell have NO real ideas. can’t win in the vote in the assembly? No problem throw feces around right outside.

  4. GeorgeMardig said:

    Is opposition trying to have an Ukrain style upheavel? please do not betray Armenia on behalf of NATO or the West, they can’t be trusted, they sold Armenia long time ago for a bag of silver, the way Jesus was sold. The West in 25 years couldn’t lift the blockade of Turkey against all Int’l laws, get live.

  5. T.K. said:

    Here is some thoughts about the gas deal that has become an issue here.
    Russia has been giving gas to Armenia for $189 per c/m for years, few years ago the price went up to 240 now we will get customs duties free with CU and back to 189. however, the armenian customer was and still pays $332. armrussgasard who owned 20% and basically controlled the situation inside was stealing. i happen to know a lot of their managers and all live very well considering their salaries. not only they stole, they also managed to accumulate 300 million debt. which is a subject now in the parliament. i think gasprom knowingly took over that 20% and will install their people to stop stealing. they want those savings to pass to the customer not some crooks. Right after gasprom’s CEO Miller said the prices will go down in Armenia, some politicians here came out and said no the price will stay the same. this whole affair is another example that we better have russians checking the books instead of leaving it to our managers who don’t mind to leave people in cold and cut their gas for non payment for their own profit. we can assume that by acting so these people also make a wedge between russian and armenian people. Just imagine Putin comes and signs agreements to help our people and our own are not willing to pass those savings to common people.

  6. Hratch said:

    The West is no good, and the East is no good when it comes to Armenia. But in the meantime, we’ll have to take the lessor of two evils….which is Russia. What we need to do is build our own power base within each camp where we can manipulate and control the strings in our favor. This is the only logical way to protect ourselves in the future. Eventually, things will change and Russia will sell us out if it coincides with their interests. So, instead of simply taking sides and further creating divisions and weakening the country, let’s get working on establishing long term foundations to survive in the future.

  7. Aram said:

    Maybe the opposition can get a better deal on gas from azerbaijan in exchange for becoming muslim.

  8. Jaconto said:

    It is patently obvious the opposition is funded and driven by western interests. These people are playing with fire and the will burn the country if allowed to. Armenia can not afford disunity. The opposition is doing just that, sowing disunity, discord and social unrest. What do these Armenian want ? Transform the country into a USA protectorate, or a EU provincial county, or a Turkish vilayet ? We have to be thankful that Russia sees some strategic value in having Armenia as a partner . Without the strategic partnership Armenia will not exist

  9. Pingback: Armenian Government Again Tramples On Constitution | Armenian News

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