By Armen Zakarian
Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov arrived in Yerevan Monday on a visit which official Armenian sources said he will use to demonstrate Moscow’s support for the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) ahead of this week’s parliamentary elections.
Gryzlov, however, denied any political motives behind the trip. Speaking to reporters at Zvartnots Airport, he said he was invited by his Armenian counterpart, Hayk Harutyunian, to discuss cooperation between the law-enforcement agencies of the two countries.
Harutyunian, for his part, said the two sides will “rewrite” bilateral agreements in that area in view of the recent reorganization of the Armenian Interior Ministry which is now called the Police. Russia and Armenia will continue to jointly fight against crime and “terrorism,” he added.
An Armenian pro-government television channel reported earlier in the day that Gryzlov will be visiting Armenia also in his capacity as the leader of the ruling United Russia party which it said has a cooperation agreement with the HHK. One of the Republicans’ top election candidates, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, personally oversees Armenia’s dealings with Russia and is a frequent guest in Moscow.
Sarkisian co-chairs the intergovernmental Russian-Armenian Commission on Economic Cooperation. Incidentally, his Russian opposite number, Ilya Klebanov, is due to arrive in Yerevan on Tuesday at the head of a large delegation of government officials and businesspeople who will attend a Russian-Armenian business forum.