Yuri Khachaturov stands accused in a case dating back to 1 March 2008
The secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Yuri Khachaturov, has been relieved of duty by the CSTO council.
What is the CSTO?
The CSTO is an international organisation operating under the auspices of Russia. Its charter states that the organisation’s goals are to “strengthen peace, international and regional security and stability, and collectively protect the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states”.
The organisation was created in 1992 immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan soon left the ranks of the organisation. Its six remaining members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Why was Khachaturov relieved of duty?
The CSTO has released a statement asserting that the decision to relieve Khachaturov of duty was made by Armenia.
Valery Semerikov, Khachaturov’s deputy, will temporarily perform the duties of the CSTO Secretary General.
Yerevan made the decision to recall Yuri Khachaturov because of his involvement as a defendant in the high-profile 1 March case in which he stands accused of “overthrowing the constitutional order”. Charges were brought against him in July this year, after which he was released on bail.
Widespread unrest broke out in Armenia after the presidential elections on 19 February 2008. Supporters of the first Armenian president and presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan argued that he had won the elections against Serzh Sargsyan.
On 1 March 2008, military-grade weaponry and the police were brought in to disperse demonstrators. As a result, 10 people were killed, of which eight were civilians.
During the protests, Khachaturov was head of the Yerevan garrison of the country’s armed forces. Investigators claim he personally led the dispersal of demonstrators.
Now the Collective Security Treaty Organization must choose a new secretary general. This will likely take place at the 8 November session of the CSTO council. Per the organisation’s regulations, the mandate of secretary general will remain with Armenia for another year.
Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, has already commented on the situation:
“We are convinced that we can perform this function. We have enough resources to nominate a candidate. The main interest is to ensure that the organisation remains effective.”
Will Armenia be able to keep the mandate?
The question of whether or not Armenia will be able to retain the mandate was discussed by experts immediately after the initiation of the criminal case against Yuri Khachaturov.
The situation was aggravated by the sharp reaction of Moscow, which said that Armenia must first relieve Khachaturov from the post of general secretary, and only then begin criminal prosecution against him.
Political scientist Vigen Hakobyan believes that Armenia will not be able to keep the mandate, and the post of secretary general will be transferred to another country:
“No one wants this to be a precedent. I think an interim decision will be made: the chairmanship will move to the next country in alphabetical order.”
Who is Yuri Khachaturov
Yuri Khachaturov served as the Chief of Staff of the Missile Forces and Artillery in Afghanistan from 1987 to 1989. Starting in 1992 he was seconded to the Ministry of Defence of Armenia. Since 2008, Colonel-General Khachaturov served as Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia and Deputy Minister of Defence. In 2016 he was appointed Secretary of the National Security Council of Armenia. He took the post of CSTO Secretary General in May 2017.