YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the wife of Robert Kocharyan, his former Armenian counterpart arrested on controversial coup and corruption charges, late on Tuesday at the end of his latest visit to Armenia.
Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, and Kocharyan’s spokesman, Victor Soghomonyan, confirmed Armenian media reports about the meeting but gave no details. Soghomonyan shed no light on the issues that were discussed by Putin and Bella Kocharyan.
Putin reportedly spoke to her at the Russian Embassy in Yerevan right after holding talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on the sidelines of a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) summit. The Russian president then headed to Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport where held another meeting with Pashinyan before returning to Moscow.
The Yerevan daily Hraparak quoted a spokesman for Pashinyan as saying that the two leaders did not discuss Kocharyan’s prosecution.
Putin has repeatedly signaled support for Kocharyan ever since the latter was arrested and charged in connection with the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan shortly after Pashinyan came to power in last year’s “Velvet Revolution.” The Russian Foreign Ministry openly alleged political motives behind the criminal case in July 2018. Armenia’s government and law-enforcement authorities deny such motives.
Putin heaped praise on Kocharyan when he congratulated the latter on his 65th birthday anniversary on August 31. He described the former Armenian president as a “true friend of Russia” who had strengthened Russian-Armenian relations and contributed to regional security.