By Emil Danielyan
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian said on Saturday that Gennady Seleznev, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament who has urged Armenia to join the Russia-Belarus union, did not raise the issue when they met in Yerevan the previous day.” Markarian, who is strongly opposed to the idea, said he also rejected Seleznev’s suggestion to give Russian language an official status in Armenia.
Markarian and Seleznev meeting in Yerevan Friday
“Of course, we did not talk about [Armenia joining] Russia-Belarus because the [governing] Republican Party has clearly expressed its position both in the past and two days ago,” Markarian told reporters.
Seleznev said on Friday that he will discuss the matter with Armenian leaders during his official visit. He is due to meet with President Robert Kocharian on Sunday. Kocharian has repeatedly rejected calls by some left-wing Armenian parties to join the close union of the two Slavic nations.
Markarian said he and the Communist speaker of the State Duma had instead a “lengthy conversation” on the status of Russian language in Armenia, with Seleznev proposing Yerevan to declare it the second official language.
“I told him that there is no way Russian language can have a status equal to one enjoyed by Armenian,” he said. “It is up to our state to decide which laws it needs to have. Nobody has the right to tell or kindly advise us how we should amend our language legislation.”
The leader of the pro-Russian Armenian Communist Party (HKK), Vladimir Darpinian, told RFE/RL Saturday that the HKK has promised Seleznev to campaign for greater use of Russian in Armenia.