Russia granted Armenia a $200 million loan to be spent on Russian-made military equipment and offered Yerevan to buy new Iskander-M tactical missiles
In light of the developments in Ukraine after the Maidan Putsch, it is not difficult to understand why Russian officials and media were freaking out when they saw thousands of protesters gathering in the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Although many protesters had made it clear that they don't want to follow the Ukrainian example, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov deemed it best to warn the West against any attempt to spark a color revolution in Armenia by exploiting "Electric Yerevan."
Armenian Prime Minister Ovik Abramyan also pointed out that the movement could be hijacked by forces whose real goal is destabilizing the country. In contrast to Lavrov, Abramyan was not referring to the West but rather to the Armenian opposition and he did have a point:
Armenian politician arrives at Yerevan's Baghramyan Avenue with EU flag (PHOTOS)
Paruyr Hayrikyan, leader of Armenia’s Union for National Self-Determination, arrived at Yerevan’s Baghramyan Avenue accompanied by several supporters, who carried the flags of Armenia and EU.
The protestors began to shout angrily “Go away!” and urged Hayrikyan to remove the EU flag. Protestors qualify this step by Hayrikyan as a provocation.
Responding to the journalists’ observations on whether such a step isn’t a provocation and won’t give a reason to foreign and specifically Russian media to present the protests in Baghramyan Avenue as Maidan, Harikyan said he’s not interested in that.
As protesters tore up the EU flag, they told Hayrikyan and his supporters in no uncertain terms: "Baghramyan is not Maidan, don't associate it with the latter!" That is exactly what the Kremlin wanted to hear.
"Electric Yerevan" has made the Russian government very nervous. Moscow tried to appease the crowd by granting Armenia one concession after another but the protesters stood by their three demands, which can only be fulfilled by the Armenian government.
Yerevan has merely offered to absorb the costs of the electricity price hike until an independent audit determines whether the planned price hike is justified. So the protests continued and Russia made another move.
After granting Armenia a $200 million loan to buy Russian weapons, Russian defense industry sources leaked a few days ago to the press in Russia and Armenia which weapons the country might get:
Russia ‘Negotiating’ on New Missile Supplies to Armenia
Russia is reportedly holding negotiations with Armenia on supplying it with sophisticated Iskander-M missiles that would significantly boost Armenian defense capabilities in the unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan.
“A contract has not been signed yet; negotiations are still going on,” the official TASS news agency quoted an unnamed source in the Russian defense industry as saying late on Thursday.
The source gave no further details, saying that “all information about such contracts is secret.”
Details are scarce but when the news broke, it created a stir in Armenia and abroad because the delivery of Iskander missile systems could have serious implications for the military balance in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Given that Azerbaijan is not capable of intercepting Iskander missiles, one would expect that the report caused an outcry in Baku but Azerbaijani media preferred to downplay the issue. AzerNews advised Armenia "to improve its economic situation rather than frivolously spending the money on its military" and Trend suggested that Russia is just trying to sell more weapons to Azerbaijan.
This view was shared by an Armenian newspaper, which argued that Russia granted Armenia the $200 million loan to keep the arms race going and provoke Azerbaijan into buying Russian weapons for billions of dollars. Regardless of whether or not there is some truth to these claims, it is safe to say that "Electric Yerevan" has prompted some major developments despite failing to achieve its goals:
Police End ‘Electric Yerevan’ Protests, For Now
Riot police forcibly unblocked on Monday a central Yerevan avenue that has been the scene of a nonstop demonstration for the past two weeks against a controversial rise in electricity prices in Armenia.
Only between 100 and 200 protesters remained camped out on Marshal Bagramian Avenue when the police began dismantling their barricade. They went on to carefully disperse the small crowd.
No To Plunder, a youth group that launched the “Electric Yerevan” campaign, urged the protesters on June 28 to unblock Marshal Bagramian Avenue. Most protesters rejected the appeal. Nevertheless, attendance at the protests fell dramatically in the following days.