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Armenian PM: Electricity Hike To Be Paid By Power Station Sale

The Armenian government says it will use money from the sale of one of the country's largest power-generating facilities to subsidize a new increase in the price of electricity.

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian said a 16 percent rise in electricity prices effective on August 1 will be offset by the recent sale of the Vorotan Hydro Cascade, which was sold in May to the private U.S. energy company ContourGlobal for $180 million.

Abrahamian made his comments during a visit to the northwestern city of Gyumri on August 1.

After nearly two weeks of large-scale protests in Yerevan and other cities about the announced hike in electricity prices, President Serzh Sarkisian said in late June that the government would pay the rate hike itself until an international audit of the Russian-owned Electric Networks of Armenia, which runs Armenia's power grid, was completed.

Sarkisian said the public would start paying the 16 percent increase only if the audit confirmed that the rise was justifiable.

Rise Armenia, one of the civil groups campaigning against the electricity price hikes, held smaller-scale street protests last week and demanded the government reveal the source of funding for the subsidy.

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