U.S. and Russia differ on March 1 Probe
MOSCOW—Russia expects an honest and serious conversation during Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s scheduled visit on September 8, said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov, reported RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
“Many questions have accumulated from both our and the Armenian side, therefore we expect an honest and serious conversation around all those issues which relate to both bilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation in terms of EEU and CSTO,” Ushakov said.
Separately, the Kremlin’s official website has published the issues on the agenda of the September 8 meeting.
Russia’s unease about Armenia since the Velvet Revolution took on a new layer in July when former president Robert Kocharian was charged with breaching Armenia’s constitutional order in relation to the March 1, 2008 post-election standoff between security forces and protesters during which eight civilians and two police officers were killed. Key to Russia’s concern was the simultaneous charges brought against then deputy defense minister Yuri Khachaturov, who is currently the Secretary General of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization—the CSTO.
Shortly after Kocharian was remanded into custody, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the arrest “political” and expressed Moscow’s concern about what he called “domestic issues” in Armenia.
Lavrov renewed his “concerns” on Monday when he, once again, spoke about the criminal probe underway in Armenia.
“It is important to find out the assessment of possible outcomes of the domestic situation from the new Armenian leader himself,” said Lavrov referring to the upcoming meeting.
“We care about how Armenia’s commitments to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are presented in this situation. We take as the basis the certainty that these commitments are valid and subject to full implementation. That includes commitments to strengthening the reputation and the prestige of our common organization,” said Lavrov.
“We are concerned that the situation in Armenia is still far from calming down. In particular, there is an open investigation of events that happened a decade ago, arrests are happening. We consider it a domestic business of the Republic of Armenia and we want these domestic affairs to remain grounded in the law and the constitution. We also wish for them to be completed as soon as possible, so that Armenia can focus on constructive activities,” added Lavrov.
“We have been following the events that unfolded in Armenia since after the constitutional amendments on transferring all major authorities to the Prime Minister, elected by the parliament, came into force. We undertook no activities and made no statements that could be interpreted as intervention into internal affairs, even remotely. I cannot say the same about other global actors,” said Lavrov.
The Russian position is in stark contrast to that of the United States, whose representatives have continually called for an “assessment” of the March 1, 2008 events.
On Wednesday, US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills was asked by a reporter about his assessment of the official Moscow’s remarks about the domestic situation in Armenia.
“I have seen those [Russian] comments. It is for the Armenian government to respond to comments from the Russian government. Our view remains that there has been a need for a thorough and fair investigation into the events of March 2008, and it is important that that investigation be carried out in accordance with the rule of law and Armenian due process,” Mills told reporters on Wednesday in Yerevan.