Russian Ambassador Defends Offensive Remarks

Russia's ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Volynkin (Photo: RFE/RL)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Ivan Volynkin, the Russian ambassador to Armenia, on Friday stood by his controversial calls for the Armenian authorities to crack down on local Western-funded civic groups critical of Russia.

“First of all, my statement was not well received not in Armenia but in some circles, so to speak,” he told journalists. “Secondly, I am not calling on anybody to leave Armenia. I’m just saying that one must be as honest as possible on all issues.”

“I will never retract my comments,” added Volynkin.

The envoy was reacting to an outcry sparked by his interview with a Russian-Armenian newspaper published this week. He suggested that the authorities in Yerevan take restrictive measures for “neutralizing those NGOs in Armenia that want to drive a wedge into Russian-Armenian relations.” He cited in that context a controversial Russian law that requires groups receiving U.S. and European grants to register as “foreign agents.”

The Armenian government appeared to have ruled out any such curbs on Wednesday, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying that no Armenian NGO is “able to drive a wedge between Armenia and Russia.”

Volynkin’s remarks were strongly condemned by Armenia’s leading groups involved in civil rights advocacy. They also denounced the Russian diplomat for declaring last month that Moscow “will thwart any aggressive interference in the internal affairs of friendly states carried out under the pretext of spreading ideas alien to our minds and hearts.”

Levon Barseghian, the chairman of the Gyumri-based Asparez Journalists’ Club, demanded on Friday that the Armenian government bring Volynkin to task. “Official Yerevan should just imagine what would happen if Armenia’s ambassador to Russia said such things,” he said.

Volynkin’s controversial statements were also criticized by Naira Zohrabian, a senior member of the Prosperous Armenia Party, the second largest parliamentary force. “I believe that in Armenia there are no NGOs operating beyond the law,” she said. “Maybe there are such organizations in Russia. I don’t know.”

“Generally speaking, I think that every ambassador, regardless of which country they represent, must act within the bounds of diplomatic ethics,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (


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  1. Armenian said:

    Russia’s fear of losing control of everything is completely out of control, and this is particularly demonstrated in Crimea and instances of declarations like this one.

    Unfortunately, his attitude is reflective of nothing more than the environment we have created for Russia, whose officials now overtly disrespect us whenever need be, and even taunt our sovereignty by suggesting that Armenians who have decided to repatriate to Armenia to make it a better place need to be “monitored” in case they pose a threat to Russia’s interests. It’s very obvious that Russia feels so entitled to our land that they can come in and tell us who we can and can’t allow in our country.

    Their fear of losing all of their ex-satellites is so profound that I would not be surprised if this very ambassador made his way to Zvartnots International Airport and interrogated every single individual in the “Arrivals” section as to how they feel about Russia. What’s even worse is, our authorities would allow him to do that, and some of our beloved brain-dead zombies would encourage that sort of behavior as well. After all, if we aren’t worshiping Russia in every way, shape and form, the sky will fall on us!

    God bless the Russo-Armenian alliance and protect it from all rational and logical people both at home and in the diaspora!

    • Who cares said:

      You raise valid points. However, the west has failed also. This is the truth. It was Russian influence that saved Armenia from total annihilation. Again, it was due to their influence that Yerevan even has a metro. But, on the flip side, all of this doesn’t even matter. You see, the odds of us (and by us i mean anyone who is a living being from this earth) existing as a species will soon come to an end. I am not saying because Jesus is coming, unless he comes as a form of global warming. The greatest minds, including those of the west are now saying we have less than a 50/50 chance of surviving the next 100 years. I doubt what the global powers with all this IMF, World Bank, UN, USA, Russia, Euro, China and so on, are really doing anything effective to prevent natural disasters. Our oceans are dying, not the west or the east is going to save anything.

  2. Artin Djerdjerian said:

    Bravo Volynkin….We do not want to be like Ukrania…God Bles Russia…

    • Armenian said:

      You neglect that Russia will make Armenia into another Ukrainia if it sees it fit. Since nobody was going to stop it from taking a piece of that country, Russia has a blank check to toss us whichever way it sees fit, if it sees it fit. It’s amazing that you and people like you don’t understand the dangers of Russian aggression for Armenia, and instead insist on praising it because that’s just your natural instinct. Please use your brain; there’s a reason why it’s there.

  3. GeorgeMardig said:

    …..Official Yerevan should just imagine what would happen if Armenia’s ambassador to Russia said such things,” he said….. Unfortunatly Armenia is not Russia nor America, all that Armenians can do is to read between the lines, the West after 100 years coundn’t make Turkey to recognise the Genocide, nor all western countries recognize the Genocide, Armenia today exist thanks to his neighbour in the north. Armenians specially diaspora Armenians should stop touching Russia’s BLS.

  4. Lus said:

    Thank you Mr Volynkin, there was nothing ‘offensive’ in your remarks. Anyone finding them offensive needs to get a reality check!

  5. Harutik said:

    A Russian is once again doing an Armenian’s job. I fully endorse the honorable ambassador’s assessment of the dangers Western funded NGOs in Armenia present. As an Armenian, would go further and state that all Western funded NGOs, regardless of their stated missions in Armenia, need to be terminated.

    • Who cares said:

      Yes, let us close our minds and not think of anything. Perhaps we should not even think of the possibility of changing anything. Unless Russia says so. No China, no Africa, no anywhere there is a human with a different thought. That is dangerous and bad. Reminds me of early western thought and the crazy people who thought different at the time. Like Socrates, glad they killed him. To bad they did not also kill Plato and Aristotle, or Confucius. Might as well get rid of all thought. Why think? Let us have someone think for us, we should not learn and grow as a people, we should hold clubs and forget agriculture and start hunting and gathering.

      • Avetis said:

        You proved to me that some people shouldn’t be in the business of thinking.