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Armenian Leader Gets $200 Million Loan, Gas Price Cut From Russia

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has secured a $200 million preferential loan and a $25 gas price cut on a visit to Russia, the president's office said on September 7.

The loan, which came with easy repayment terms, will be used to modernize the Armenian military, it said, while the gas price cut will bring the price Armenia pays to $165 per cubic meter.

There was no visible progress, however, on Sarkisian's request for relief on the price of electricity piped in from Russia -- a sensitive topic as his government has faced protests all summer over an August hike in electricity prices.

The government is temporarily subsidizing the cost of electricity for needy customers pending a review of the pricing decisions.

The Russian-owned electricity carrier has blamed the fall of Armenia's currency for driving up the cost of power.

"The key issue remains the question of the energy carrier price," Sarkisian said before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Novo-Ogaryovo.

"In this critical situation, the fluctuations of the currencies affect the tariffs very painfully. I hope very much that we will find a new decision, a good decision."

Based on reporting by TASS, Interfax, APA, and Public Radio of Armenia

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