Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Armenia early next month, a pro-Kremlin leader of the Armenian community in Russia said on Thursday.
Ara Abrahamian, a businessman heading the Union of Armenians of Russia, said the working visit is scheduled for December 1-2. “The president of Armenia has many issues to discuss with the president of the Russian Federation,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
There have so far been no official announcements of what will be Putin’s first trip to Yerevan since he regained the Russian presidency last year. It will come three months after his most recent talks with Sarkisian that were held near Moscow.
That meeting resulted in the unexpected announcement of Armenia’s decision to join the Russian-led customs union at the expense of a far-reaching Association Agreement with the European Union.
The move came after months of apparent Russian pressure exerted on Yerevan. Russian officials and Kremlin-linked pundits openly criticized the Sarkisian administration for its reluctance to join the trade bloc, which Putin plans to turn into a Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states in 2015. Armenian officials have denied any pressure from Moscow in their public statements.
According to Abrahamian, Putin will be accompanied by a delegation of as many as 500 Russian government officials and businesspeople. He said they will attend a Russian-Armenian economic forum in Yerevan.