Moscow said Monday that it wants assurances from Yerevan before a possible visit by President Vladimir Putin of Russia to Armenia, given that the International Criminal Court, of which Armenia is now a member, has issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia has “already said that, of course, the new reality related to Armenia’s membership in the international statute cannot but have a negative impact on our bilateral relations.”
“Of course, it is very important here to receive certain assurances from our Armenian partners. That matter still needs to be resolved within the framework of bilateral dialogue, which we are willing to do,” Peskov told reporters.
Peskov’s comments follow vague responses on the matter given by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in an interview with the UK-based The Telegraph that was published over the weekend.
When Pashinyan was asked, point blank by The Telegraph’s Roland Oliphant, “if Vladimir Putin arrived in Yerevan, would you arrest him?,” he responded by saying that he will leave it up to the legal professionals to make that determination.
“I want to say that the Republic of Armenia started the process of joining the Rome Statute in December 2022, and that decision was conditioned by the assessment of changes in our security environment. We ratified the Rome Statute, among other things, analyzing the consequences of the September 2022 war and noting that there are some cracks in our security system. In that sense, we also ratified the Rome Statute as an additional factor to increase Armenia’s security level. I understand that it was a difficult time period, and we made that decision because it was a difficult period. That decision serves to increase the security level of Armenia,” Pashinyan told The Telegraph.
“As for the legal nuances, I can’t carry out a legal analysis right now because that’s the job of lawyers. I think, as I said, Armenia as a responsible state should adhere to all its international commitments, including the commitments it has in relations with the Russian Federation, the commitments it has in relations with the international community,” said Pashinyan.
“By the way, there are various opinions and legal analyses on that topic, and in particular, the lawyers who say that the current heads of state have immunity, insurmountable immunity, due to their status are not just a few. I mean, it’s a legal issue, not a political issue that I have to discuss and respond to,” the prime minister added.
“Since 2018, many large-scale democratic reforms have started in Armenia, and I do not make decisions about who should be arrested and who should not be arrested. There is an established legal order in Armenia, there are legal institutions, and in all cases the legal institutions of Armenia are the ones who make such decisions,” Pashinyan told The Telegraph. “For that we have the Prosecutor’s Office, we have courts, we have the Investigative Committee.
“It is very important that, being a member of the Eastern Partnership, the Republic of Armenia stands out especially for institutional reforms of having an independent judicial system. There is rule of law in the Republic of Armenia, the Prime Minister has his powers in the Republic of Armenia. Under no circumstances those powers include the solution of the question whether this person should be arrested or not. All of that is done through legal procedures,” said the prime minister.
Pashinyan was also asked by Oliphant, whether it was possible for him to call Putin and “tell him just not to come, because you cannot promise that he will not be arrested?,” saying it would be an awkward situation.
“I don’t think that Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] needs my advice,” Pashinyan responded to the question.