Refugees Demand Traveling Documents Refuse Citizenship

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Refugees staged another demonstration of protest near the residence of the president of Armenia on Thursday. Members of the "Labor & Charity" public organization–which deals with problems of refugees–continue to demand that official authorities of Armenia provide refugees with "traveling documen’s" so that they may go abroad as refugees.

The Armenian government is known to be encouraging refugees to receive citizenship. The demonstrators flatly refuse to acquire the citizenship of Armenia until their housing problems are resolved. Most of refugees still live in hostels and makeshifts.

Some of the demonstrators accused the government of "expelling refugees from Yerevan" by refusing to register them in residential areas when they apply for Armenian passports. Following the deportation of Armenia’s from Azerbaijan–many refugees settled in empty flats and hostels.

Presidential spokeswoman Gassia Abkarian promised to present an official reply in a week’s time.

9. Gazprom’s Presence In Armenia Substantiated

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian government has formally ratified an agreement with Russia’s Gazprom natural gas monopoly that effectively gives the latter control over the natural gas distribution system in Armenia.

The agreement between the Armenian Energy Ministry and Gazprom–which was signed on July 2–stipulates the transfer of Armenia’s natural gas infrastructure to the ArmRosGazprom joint venture.

The Armenian government has a 45 percent stake in that company–with the remaining 55 percent owned by Gazprom and one of its subsidiaries.

ArmRosGazprom was formally set up in December–1997–to handle Russian gas supplies to–and possibly also transit through–Armenia. The joint venture signaled Armenia’s growing reliance on Russia (rather than Turkmen’stan) for energy resources.

Armen Harutiunian–an adviser to the energy minister–denied in an interview with RFE/RL on Thursday that the agreement may undercut Armenia’s economic independence. He also said that the ongoing financial turmoil in Russia will not affect the joint venture as all bilateral agreemen’s are based on US dollar equivalents. He said Gazprom’s share in ArmRosGazprom’s $280 million capital will largely be covered by gas supplies–while Armenia will pay in cash.

The new company is due to launch its operations later this month.

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