The Armenian government on Wednesday appeared to have ruled out the possibility of a crackdown on local Western-funded civic organizations which has been advocated by Russia’s ambassador to Armenia.
In a newspaper interview published this week, Ambassador Ivan Volynkin pointed to draconian measures taken against such groups operating in Russia. He suggested that the authorities in Yerevan adopt similar methods for “neutralizing those NGOs in Armenia that want to drive a wedge into Russian-Armenian relations.”
“I don’t think that any non-governmental organization is able to drive a wedge between Armenia and Russia in terms of their allied relationship … based on a centuries-old friendship between the two peoples,” Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan said, commenting on Volynkin’s remarks.
“In Armenia, all organizations are registered and operate within the framework of Armenian laws,” Balayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Those laws place few restrictions on scores of Armenian civic groups financed by Western governments, international organizations and charities. Many of them are highly critical of Russia’s current leadership and oppose Armenia’s upcoming accession to the Russian-led Customs Union.