Russian Prime Minister Wraps up Yerevan Visit

YEREVAN (RFE/RL/Armenpress)–Ending a two-day official visit to Yerevan–Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov pledged Saturday to deepen "strategic partnership" with Armenia–and gave new assurances that it will–as previously promised–invest in those declining Armenian enterprises it acquired in return for Armenia’s $100 million debt to Russia.

He made clear–however–that Russia will not reconsider doubling the price of natural gas supplied to the South Caucasus–including Armenia.

Russia’s state-run Gazprom monopoly announced last week–it will drastically raise the gas tariffs for several ex-Soviet states dependent on the Russian fuel.

Together with President Kocharian–Fradkov inaugurated a newly refurbished aluminum foil plant in Yerevan–on Saturday–which is owned by Russia’s Rusal group–one of the world’s largest aluminum manufacturers.

"This enterprise is a vivid example of the potential of economic cooperation between Russia and Armenia," Fradkov said.

Rusal has apparently invested $70 million to modernize the plant–and expects to more than double aluminum foil production in Armenia.

Before leaving Yerevan–the Russian prime minister visited the memorial to the victims of the 1915 genocide of Armenia’s and registered a message in a special guest book at the Genocide museum.

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