Yerevan Says Recent Events Do Not Veer from its Foreign Policy Priorities.
YEREVAN—In a rare rebuke of its strategic ally, Armenia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday expressed serious concern about what it called “politically motivated” arrests of former Armenian officials, who are charged with “breaching the Constitutional order” during the March1, 2008 post-presidential election unrest in Yerevan, which left eight civilians and two police officers dead.
“The events of the last few days… contradict statements of the country’s new leadership, which said that it would not prosecute predecessors based on political motives,” Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday.
“As an ally of Yerevan, Moscow has always been interested in Armenia’s stability. Therefore, what is happening there cannot but concern us,” added Lavrov, who emphasized Moscow’s concerns as they related to Armenia’s participation in CIS-affiliated organizations.
The Russian foreign minister added that during the past few days Moscow has expressed its concerns with Armenia’s leadership and hoped for a “constructive” resolution of the issue.
Lavrov said that during the popular movement in the spring, official Moscow was encouraged by pledges to resolve crisis based on political compromises. However, he said, the events of the past few days “contradict” the statements of Armenia’s leadership.
Lavorv spoke about the the charges of “breaching Armenia’s Constitutional order” brought against Yuri Khachaturov, who is the Secretary General of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and at the time of the 2008 events was Armenia’s deputy defense minister.
Khachaturov was charged on the same day as former president Robert Kocharian. While Kocharian was remanded into custody, Khachaturov was let go after posting a reported 5 million dram bail.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tigran Balayan on Wednesday countered the Moscow’s criticism saying that domestic developments in Armenia are a reflection of the Armenian government’s priorities of instituting rule of law through an independent judiciary to fight corruption.
“These proceedings are not related to Armenia’s foreign policy and must be interpreted otherwise,” said Balayan.
“In this context, we reiterate that our foreign policy priorities, which are included in the government’s program that was approved by parliament, are directed at strengthening and deepening the Armenia-Russia partnership and aim to elevate the effectiveness of our cooperation in the CSTO and Eurasian Economic Union,” added Balayan.
“We, unequivocally, are following [our] declared guidelines.”
On Saturday, the Armenian foreign ministry began the formal process to replace the CSTO Secretary General by contacting other member-states. Moscow, at the time, called Yerevan’s moves “extremely unprofessional,” with its foreign ministry saying that Armenia should have “recalled” Khachaturov before initiating any legal charges against him.