Armenian presidential office photo: Robert Kocharian and Boris Yeltsin during a boat cruise on Lake Sevan on Sunday.
By Anush Dashtents
Sources close to Levon Ter-Petrosian said on Monday that the former Armenian president and the visiting former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, will likely meet on Tuesday over the objections of the current Armenian leadership.
"They are doing everything to prevent the meeting," one member of Ter-Petrosian's entourage told RFE/RL, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He claimed that President Robert Kocharian tried unsuccessfully to dissuade Yeltsin from visiting Ter-Petrosian. He said both ex-presidents, who have not seen each other for five years, insisted on the meeting.
A top Ter-Petrosian spokesman, Artashes Avagian, declined to refute or confirm the claims.
Ter-Petrosian has rarely appeared in public or received visitors since being forced into resignation by his key ministers led by Kocharian in February 1998. The reclusive ex-president is seen as a potential major candidate in next February's presidential election, during which Kocharian will be seeking a second term in office. But his participation in the vote appears increasingly unlikely.
A warm personal rapport between Yeltsin and Ter-Petrosian is believed to have contributed to the close political and military ties between Russia and Armenia forged in the early 1990s.
Yeltsin, who was Russia's president from 1991 to 2000, arrived in Armenia on Saturday for a six-day visit at the invitation of Kocharian. The two men spent the weekend at Kocharian's retreat on the picturesque shore of Lake Sevan after attending official celebrations of Yerevan's anniversary.
On Monday, the 71-year-old Russian ex-president and his wife Naina visited an arts museum in the Armenian capital and the nearby Saghmosavank monastery built in the 7th century. They will undertake more sight-seeing trips across the country in the coming days.