MPs believe that the Russia diplomat had no right to meet with the former head of state who stands accused of ‘overthrowing the constitutional system’ and bribery. Update: the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already spoken with the Russian ambassador about his meeting with ex president Kocharyan
Local media report that the Russian ambassador to Armenia has already been summoned by the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
Ruling party MP and chairman of the parliamentary commission on foreign affairs Ruben Rubinyan wrote on his Facebook page:
“After the meeting of the foreign relations commission, during which the meeting between the ambassador of the Russian Federation and Robert Kocharyan was discussed, I spoke with Foreign Minister Zohrabo Mnatsakanyan. The minister informed me that, in fact, the Russian ambassador had already been summoned to the Foreign Ministry last Friday, where a conversation took place with him about non-interference in the internal affairs of Armenia.
“And the Deputy [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Grigor Hovhanissyan did not say this during the meeting, because at that time he had no permission to communicate this information.”
MPs of the Armenian parliament have expressed their dissatisfaction over the recent meeting of Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin with former President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan.
The National Assembly of Armenia demanded an official reaction from the Armenian Foreign Ministry, which was short: there is nothing ‘reprehensible’ about the meeting, the FM said.
Why did the ambassador meet with Kocharyan?
Little information has been made available about the meeting of Sergey Kopyrkin and Robert Kocharyan.
What issues were discussed was not reported.
A day after the meeting, the Russian Embassy in Armenia issued a message stating:
“As part of his regular meetings with representatives of the socio-political and business circles, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Armenia S.P. Kopyrkin met with the second President of the Republic of Armenia, R.S. S. Kocharyan.”
Then, information appeared in the press that the parties had agreed on a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Robert Kocharyan during a planned visit of the Russian president to Armenia this autumn.
Why is the parliament unhappy?
Robert Kocharyan stands accused of complicity in the events of 1 March 2008, when 10 people were killed when military grade equipment was used to disperse demonstrators protesting the results of the February election.
Kocharyan was first charged in July 2018. More recently, in February 2019, another charge was levied against him: that of receiving a bribe worth about $3 million.
Robert Kocharyan was arrested and held in prison for about five months.
He was recently released on bail, but the cases against him continue.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan stated that the former President of Armenia is not a representative of the country’s public and political circles:
“I do not welcome this meeting of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation. In the end, the ambassador of any country can meet with representatives of the entire spectrum of the political field, but there is more to it. Those charges that are brought against this person displace this person from the field of pure politics.”
When asked whether a meeting between Robert Kocharyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin could influence the situation and the accusations against the former president, Mirzoyan replied that this is impossible.
“Never. Relations with the president of any country, the prime minister of our country or any other person cannot influence the accusation and, I hope, a fair trial an sentence”.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs sees the case differently
The Foreign Ministry says the meeting of Sergey Kopyrkin with Robert Kocharyan does not go beyond the framework of diplomatic etiquette, and that there are no reasons for the ambassador to give explanations to the foreign ministry.
Deputy Minister Grigor Hovhanissyan stated:
“The ambassador’s meeting did not go beyond the diplomatic protocol. Of course, we all heard the opinions of political and public figures, saw all sorts of reactions. As for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this cannot be condemned or become a subject of special consideration on our part.”
This statement surprised opposition deputies, who raised the issue in parliament.
Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan clarified which deputy minister exactly made the statement, and concluded that Grigor Hovhannisyan may have expressed a personal opinion.