“A lukewarm energy Maidan” - it is just one of the numerous epithets used to describe the Yerevan protests against electricity price hikes. Something is for sure – we witnessed there the information and technological measures able to bring people together in one place and direct their energy at a specific goal. Did they really use the technologies of “color revolution” or were the protests spontaneous and sparked by domestic problems? Ukrainian political analyst Rostislav Ishchenko tells an EADaily correspondent about the differences and similarities of the raging for weeks Marshal Baghramyan Ave in Yerevan and the Maidan in Kiev.
The Russian and Ukrainian media drew lines between the technologies used during the Maidan in Kiev and the so-called Energy Maidan on Baghramyan Avenue in Yerevan. Although the Armenian media disclaimed such analogies, it could not but notice the well-organized and prepared backbone of the protest movement “No To Plunder!” What, after all, makes these two actions different?
- In Armenia, everything is different. At least, note that the country is already a member of the EEU and CSTO.
Do you mean that color revolution is impossible here?
- No, everything is possible. It is obvious to the meanest intelligence that without Russia’s support, Armenia will lose Karabakh and maybe even the statehood, as it is surrounded by serious opponents from all sides. For instance, in due time Turkey refused to support Azerbaijan with military power only because Russia threatened it with adequate measures if Turkey joins the military actions against Armenia. It was long ago, but nothing has changed since then, simply Russia is stronger now. Russian and Armenian frontier guards protect the border with Turkey together. There is a Russian military base in Armenia. I don’t think that such kind of military interference is possible unless there is a special request by Armenia. Russia keeps a wary eye on the fulfillment of all the international commitments and the international law. However, if there is such request, the possibilities are unlimited there.
In addition, those opponents who are in power in Armenia, even the Armenian “Euro-integrators” and the “Department of State’s mercenaries” are well aware that the situation with Karabakh and other issues is not in favor of Armenia and they still need the allied relations with Russia. It is hard to find kamikazes like Saakashvili and Poroshenko among Armenians. That is why, I think, a sudden turn in the foreign policy like the one we witnessed in Ukraine is hardly possible in Armenia. The internal forces in Armenia will crush a government like the one that came to power in Kiev. Armenian security officers will hardly be as unconsolidated and amorphous as those in Ukraine who did not care whom to serve.
What did those two actions have in common after all?
- Well, there is a vague semblance of Maidan, and, of course, the United States clouds the water in Armenia to create problems for the Russian Federation. However, the situations are not identical given the possibilities of influence on them from both inside and outside the country. Therefore, it is unlikely that something like the Kiev Maidan will happen in Armenia. Furthermore, in Armenia there are no such openly Nazi and Russophobic forces like in Ukraine, though the Armenian elite have different approaches to foreign policy building. In both the cases, the United States interfered to create problems for Russia. Yet, the problems that were created in Ukraine are impossible in Armenia.
Yet, many, including Western experts, have noticed that Victoria Nuland’s visit traditionally signals the start of a new “Maidan.” It was then when they began to speak of the end of Russia’s influence and the start of the U.S. one.
- It is a fair opinion. Even when Nuland left for Moscow for negotiations, I said that if Nuland is sent to negotiate, it means that the negotiations have failed. A person that launched war must not be sent to negotiate for peace. Americans studied diplomacy too well not to know that. Of course, they try to create problems for Russia, but they know where they can create big problems and where smaller ones.
For Russia, it is very inconvenient, indeed, as a large-scale conflict may broke out in the Caucasus in the worst-case scenario. The problem is not that Armenia may turn its back to Russia. The problem is that Armenia may be destroyed. I think, in Armenia both the authorities and the opposition know that and will not let things go the way it happened in Ukraine, despite the fact that Nuland arrived, Nuland left, and Nuland may arrive again.
Well, in this light, how do they present the sale of the Vorotan Cascade of HPPs to the United States: as an alternative that may stabilize the prices?
-It was sold yet in 2014. It will sure enable the United States influence the energy sector. However, Armenia is a country with surplus energy; they generate much more electric power than they need. The HPPs are not the only power generating capacities there. They have a nuclear power plant, thermal water plants that are operated on the Russian gas. That is why, the actions of the United State should not be linked to the acquisition of that Cascade of HPPs. After all, it was the Armenian subsidiary of a Russian company that requested increasing the electricity prices.
Judging by the Russian government’s stand on the issue, and that the idea of investigation and audits was supported, not everything is a result of the U.S. interference. There are problems with the local corruption and Armenians do not deny it. U.S. never invents anything; it comes when there is area to act and when there are problems created by the authorities. Eventually, if Yanukovych dispersed Maidan, there would have been no coup d’etat. He did not disperse Maidan, as he was a thief who saved his money in the West.
The same situation is in Armenia. There is a real background for protest. No one conceals that. That is, the United States has levers of influence on the situation, including through acquisition of the HPPs, but these levers are not absolute. The Armenian Government, the president and the Armenian subsidiary of the Russian company have power, possibilities and means not to allow a “Maidan” in Armenia.