By Laman Sadigova
Not too long ago, Armenia was marred with a number of protests all around the country against the increase of electricity tariffs.
Small, impoverished Armenia could not easily accept such sharp hike in tariffs, especially when citizens have many other financial problems pending to be solved by the government.
Corruption, law breaches and disorders are the realities of today's Armenia, whose government is unable to tackle even small social issues. Military authorities are not interested to release the people of huge burden of problems, in the opposite keeping the society in fear and anxiety.
Considering the relatively small incomes of citizens, energy prices were already quite high. The South Caucasus country lacks central heating, and people resort to using electric heating, which increases the electricity consumption by population of Armenia.
The average salary in the country is an indicator of the dire situation for Armenians. According to the National Statistical Service of Armenia, it holds steady at 180,000 drams (about $380r),,while the new tariffs are 48.78 AMD per 1 kWh in the daytime and 38.78 dram at night. Consequently, now each Armenian family will pay extra 40,000-50,000 drams (84-105 dollars) per year.
This appears amid incomparably rich life of state and government officials, as well as their family members who enjoy every opportunity in the country ignoring the legislation.
As opposition in Armenia is quite weak, such heavy protests in the country shows the extreme measures that the people have to take to alleviate the tough situation that they have found themselves.
One third of the population lives below the poverty line and do not have any means to pay the increased taxes. Unemployment, monopoly, corruption are joined by problems like the increasing prices of basic utilities from year to year, in particular, gas and electricity prices, which makes the already difficult situation of the people seem hopeless.
Everything happening in Armenia recently indicates that the economic crisis getting worse and has many sides.
Armenia, cut off from major energy projects and international trade turnover due to its aggressive policy in the region, has a strong dependency on Russia, which has recently felt a palpable economic crisis. The small South Caucasus country, whose citizens immigrate to Russia in droves, cannot cope with the situation.
Armenia remains a major threat to security in the region, keeping under control over 20 percent of internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan and puts groundless genocide claims on Turkey. That stance has isolated the country from major regional projects, depriving it from independent income.
Perhaps the social outcry would not have been so strong if the economic situation in Armenia had not worsened in the recent months. Russia not only owns a major energy company in Armenia, Moscow is Yerevan's main trading partner, decisively leads the export market, and is also the main source of investment and remittances to Armenia. The country even joined the Eurasian Economic Union together with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
The economic crisis and the devaluation of the Russian ruble at the end of the last year could not be ignored by Armenia. Trade turnover between the two countries fell by 22.2 percent in January-February in 2015.
Fitch international ratings agency believes that the decline of the Russian economy hit the hardest in Armenia and Ukraine.
Russia, facing its own domestic problems, cannot engage in charity in Armenia anymore. The small weak country, Armenia, has no more opportunities in dealing with the difficulties that are growing in the country. That deepens social crisis, bringing a new wave of protests aimed at survival.
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