Civil rights campaigners critical of the Armenian government said on Monday that they are planning to challenge in court President Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial decision to join a Russian-led customs union.
They claimed that the decision is unconstitutional because it was made secretly and violates Armenia’s national independence and sovereignty.
One of the activists, Artur Sakunts, said the lawsuit to be filed with the Administrative Court will emphasize that Sarkisian did not consult the public or even the parliament before unexpectedly announcing on September 3 what was a serious change in Armenian foreign policy. Sakunts said this breached the principle of government accountability and transparency enshrined in the Armenian constitution.
“Also, membership in the customs union contradicts Article 1 of Armenia’s constitution,” Sakunts told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). The outspoken activist, who leads a human rights group based in the northern city of Vanadzor, pointed to the supranational powers of the union’s governing body, the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Commission. “Russia can impose any decision on any member state at any moment,” he claimed.
“The customs union is an equivalent of the Soviet Union. It’s a forced union,” said Artak Zeynalian, another civic activist planning the legal action.
The Armenian authorities are certain to shrug off the initiative. They have repeatedly insisted that joining the customs union will not compromise the country’s sovereignty. Officials in Yerevan have also said that the National Assembly will have a chance to debate the Armenian membership at a later stage in the accession process.