By Anna SaghabalianRussia’s outgoing ambassador in Yerevan denied on Friday any decrease in pro-Russian sentiment in Armenia and insisted that relations between the two nations are built on an equal footing.
“I do not agree with those who say there is such a decline. It’s a different thing when the situation is very actively used by some circles to cast a shadow on relations between our countries,” Ambassador Anatoly Dryukov said without elaborating.
Dryukov spoke at a farewell news conference in the Armenian capital, commenting on a pro-Western shift in Armenian public opinion which is indicated by opinion polls conducted over the past year. Some pundits say the trend began in 2002 with a controversial Russian-Armenian equities-for-debt agreement. President Robert Kocharian’s political opponents cite the deal when they accuse him of turning Armenia into a “vassal” state of Russia.
“What can be said in that regard? It is absolutely silly,” Dryukov said, adding that Russia has always treated Armenia as an “independent and sovereign state.”
The veteran diplomat, who has headed the Russian diplomatic mission in Yerevan for the past six years, said the debt settlement was never imposed on the Armenian side and has proved to be a success.
Dryukov also said that his tenure has saw a steady development of Russian-Armenian relations. “We may have had different approaches to various issues,” he said. “But I state with all the responsibility that we always found mutually acceptable solutions.”