The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia has assessed criminal cases against the former president of Armenia and the secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation as political persecution
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov’s comment that the current Armenian authorities are trying to eliminate their political predecessors has elicited a very negative reaction in Armenia.
His comments concern two criminal cases: one against the second president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, and the other against the secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Yuri Khachaturov. Both have been accused of ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’, which refers to the events of 1 March.
• After the presidential elections of 19 February 2008, supporters of first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan demanded that the election results be reexamined. They asserted that Ter-Petrosyan had won the elections, but the Central Election Committee was adamant that Serzh Sargsyan had won the elections.
Protest demonstrations took place for ten days. On 1 March 2008, weapons were used against the crowds, resulting in the deaths of ten people. The acting president at the time was still Robert Kocharyan who imposed a state of emergency. Sargsyan had still not officially entered office at that point.
Sergey Lavrov stated:
“As an ally of Yerevan, Russia has always been interested in the stability of the Armenian state. For that reason, the events taking place there do concern us, including from the point of view of the normal functioning of organizations on the Commonwealth of Independent States [the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation -ed], in which Armenia participates. Over the last few days we have expressed our concern several times to the Armenian leadership. We believe that the situation will head in a constructive direction.”
Lavrov’s statement elicited negative reactions among the public and on social media in Armenia.
However, the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs came out with an official and diplomatic answer which, experts say, should assuage Moscow’s fears:
“We are closely following the international reaction concerning the internal processes in Armenia, which are taking place based on the rule of law, an independent judiciary and the fight against corruption, which is the internal political priority of the government. These processes are not connected to Armenia’s foreign policy and should not give rise to duplicitous interpretations,” said Tigran Balayan, the press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He also said that one of Armenia’s foreign policy priorities is the ‘strengthening of Armenian-Russian allied relations’ and that this priority is included in the state programme which parliament has recently approved.