MOSCOW (RFE/RL) – Russia has criticized Armenia, its main regional ally, in unusually blunt terms following criminal charges brought by law-enforcement authorities in Yerevan against Yuri Khachaturov, the Armenian secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Khachaturov was charged on Thursday, July 26 with involvement in what an Armenian law-enforcement agency now considers an “overthrow of the constitutional order” that followed a disputed presidential election held in February 2008.
The vote sparked opposition demonstrations in Yerevan which were quelled by security forces on March 1-2, 2008. Eight protesters and two police personnel died as a result. Khachaturov was Armenia’s deputy defense minister at the time.
The Special Investigative Service (SIS) levelled the same criminal charges against former President Robert Kocharyan. He was arrested late on Friday after angrily denying the charges as politically motivated.
Khachaturov served as chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff from 2008-2016. Russia, Armenia and four other ex-Soviet states making up the CSTO appointed him as secretary general of the Russian-led defense pact in April 2017.
A spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, July 29, that it has formally asked the other CSTO members to “start a process of replacing the secretary general.”