YEREVAN (RFE-RL) — Russia’s ambassador to Armenia was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan last week after meeting with the indicted former President Robert Kocharyan, a senior Armenian lawmaker revealed on Monday, June 17.
Ambassador Sergey Kopyrkin and Kocharyan met on Thursday nearly one month after the latter was controversially released from prison pending the outcome of his trial. The ex-president was charged with overthrowing the constitutional order in 2008 shortly after last year’s Armenian “velvet revolution.” He denies the accusations as politically motivated.
The Russian Embassy in Yerevan said Kopyrkin spoke to Kocharyan “within the framework of his regular meetings with representatives of social-political and business circles” of Armenia.
Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan dismissed this explanation on Sunday when he spoke at a congress of the ruling Civil Contract party. Mirzoyan said he does “not welcome” the meeting because Kocharyan is facing coup charges and cannot be considered a politician in these circumstances.
The pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, Ruben Rubinyan, similarly described Kopyrkin’s conversation with Kocharyan as “bewildering.” Rubinyan’s deputy, Hovannes Igityan, went farther, denouncing it as “ludicrous.”
“Look, newspapers write that Kocharyan is backed by Russia’s [ruling] elite,” Igityan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Kocharyan’s entourage is spreading such claims. In this context, the ambassador’s meeting was ludicrous to say the least.”