President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday reiterated Russia’s strong condemnation of Armenian opposition gunmen who seized a police compound in Yerevan on July 17 to demand regime change in their country.
“I want to emphasize and remind that right from the beginning Russia strongly condemned that action by the militants,” Putin said after holding talks with Armenia’s visiting President Serzh Sarkisian.
“We consider unacceptable any attempts to solve internal political problems through illegitimate, unconstitutional actions,” he told reporters in Moscow.
The Russian Foreign Ministry was quick to denounce as “criminal” the armed attack carried out by armed members of Founding Parliament, a radical Armenian opposition group. It also voiced support for the Armenian authorities’ efforts to end the two-week standoff with the gunmen demanding Sarkisian’s resignation and the release of Founding Parliament’s jailed leader, Zhirayr Sefilian.
The United States and the European Union also condemned the gunmen’s actions. But unlike Russia, they also criticized the Armenian police for using “excessive” force against people who took to the streets to voice support for the armed oppositionists.
Founding Parliament has been highly critical of Sarkisian and, in particular, his stated readiness to seek a compromise settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh. The nationalist group has repeatedly accused Russia of trying to force Armenia to make concessions to Azerbaijan.
The gunmen’s leader, Varuzhan Avetisian, decried Armenia’s “colonization” by Russia before and after his armed group surrendered to the authorities on July 31.