The Armenian government was in no rush to officially recognize Ukraine’s new authorities on Monday just as the National Assembly in Yerevan observed a minute of silence for more than 80 people killed in last week’s bloody clashes in Kiev.
Official Yerevan has issued no statements since President Viktor Yanukovich fled the Ukrainian capital on Friday after failing to quell a popular uprising against his rule.
Ukraine’s parliament replaced Yanukovich and key government ministers by opposition politicians over the weekend. One of them, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, an ethnic Armenian, said an arrest warrant has been issued for the deposed president in connection with “the mass murder of peaceful citizens.”
Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), asked his colleagues to honor the slain protesters with a minute of silence. “Use of deadly force by authorities is a great evil, a great tragedy, and I believe our parliament is obliged to stand up and remember the dead and also demonstrate that that is unacceptable and condemnable for us,” he said.
“Mr. Zurabian, I don’t mind honoring all victims, including the policemen who were killed by firearms,” replied parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian. “So I want to ask the parliament to grant that request and remember all victims of the tragedy.”
The European Union said on Monday that it recognizes Oleksandr Turchynov, an ally of formerly jailed Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as Ukraine's legitimate acting president.
Russia denounced that recognition as “aberration,” however, with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, challenging the legitimacy of the pro-Western interim government in Kiev. The Russian Foreign Ministry, for its part, effectively accused that government of using "dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods" to pressure dissenters.
That might explain why the Armenian government did not rush to publicly recognize Yanukovich’s ouster. “Yanukovich has not resigned,” insisted Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Kukhta, appeared to have pledged allegiance to his country’s new leadership. Kukhta agreed that the regime change in his country was “legitimate” as he received several pro-Western Armenian activists who have strongly supported the nearly three-month protests in Kiev’s central Independence Square better known as Maydan.
“Please accept my condolences and also congratulations,” the most prominent of the visitors, Davit Shahnazarian, told the envoy. Shahnazarian paid tribute to “the heroes of Maydan.”
“Lots of people have been phoning the embassy,” Kukhta told journalists. “We really appreciate that.”