MOSCOW (RFE/RL)—Russia has called for a “legal” solution to the continuing standoff over electricity prices in Armenia and warned against a destabilization of the political situation in the South Caucasus country allied to it.
“Armenia is our closest partner,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters late on Tuesday. “We are bound by historic links with Armenia and the Armenian people.”
“We are very closely monitoring what is going on there and hope the situation will be settled in the near future in strict accordance with the law and that there will be no violations of the law,” Peskov said, according to the RIA Novosti agency.
Russia’s ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Volynkin, also reacted on Wednesday to the ongoing street protests in Yerevan against a controversial rise in electricity prices. “This situation can be settled only at a negotiating table, which is what has been repeatedly proposed by Armenian President Serzh Sarkissian,” Volynkin told journalists.
“We want to see a stable situation in Yerevan and Armenia in general and are against any conflicts here. Armenia can develop only in stable conditions,” he said in what appeared to be a warning addressed to scores of mostly young people demonstrating in Yerevan.
A civic group leading the protests has twice rejected Sarkissian’s offers to meet with its leaders and discuss their demands. It says that the president knows their views and should simply reverse the price hike.
Unlike the United States and the European Union, the Russian officials did not criticize the Armenian authorities for using force against protesters and some journalists on Tuesday morning.
The Kremlin has been highly critical of sustained anti-government protests in ex-Soviet states and Ukraine in particular. It has accused Western powers of encouraging and even financing “color revolutions” there to weaken Russia’s presence in what it considers its “near abroad.”
Some Russian state-run media and pro-Kremlin pundits have already alleged that the West has a hand in the Armenian standoff.