ARMENIA ASSURES THAT THE ANTICORRUPTION CAMPAIGN WILL NOT AFFECT ITS LINKS WITH MOSCOW
Armenia, criticized by Moscow for the recent prosecution of pro-Russian officials, defended its “domestic” affairs Wednesday and assured that the anti-corruption campaign launched by the new government would not affect its ties with Russia.
“We take note of the international reactions to ongoing domestic procedures in Armenia. These are tied to the establishment of the rule of law, the independence of justice, and the fight against corruption,” said Tigran Balayan, the spokesman of Armenian diplomacy in a statement. But these court cases “have nothing to do with Armenia’s foreign policy,” which aims to “further strengthen Russian-Armenian allied relations,” he said.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in May, launched a massive anti-corruption campaign against former Armenian elites. Former President Robert Kocharian (1998-2008) was arrested last week and accused of rigging the 2008 presidential election in favor of his ally Serge Sarkissian.
In the same case, Yuri Khachaturov was also indicted. He is the Armenian Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance led by Moscow. In 2008, Kachaturov held senior positions in the Armenian army.
The lawsuits brought Armenia a dry warning from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday marking the first public tensions between Moscow and Yerevan ] since Nikol Pashinian came to power in May following popular protests. “The events of the last few days … contradict recent statements by the new Armenian power that it does not intend to pursue its predecessors on political grounds,” Lavrov said. “This “can only worry us,” he added.
Armenia has proposed to the CSTO member countries to initiate the procedure to replace Mr Khachaturov in this post, facing a clear refusal from Moscow. “In accordance with the rules, it is up to the Armenian side to initiate the dismissal of its citizen from the post of secretary general of the CSTO, if such a decision has been made” was the stern response from Russian diplomacy.