President Serzh Sarkisian congratulated his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on his landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election and said Armenia will strive to deepen its “strategic alliance” with Russian during his fourth term in office.
The supreme head of the state-backed Armenian Apostolic Church, Garegin (Karekin) II, also sent a congratulatory message to Putin on Monday.
Official election results showed that with more than 99 percent of ballots counted, Putin had 76.67 percent of the vote. According to them, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin was second with 11.82 percent, followed by flamboyant ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.68 percent and journalist and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak with 1.66 percent.
In his message to Putin, Sarkisian said the election outcome, marred by reports of numerous violations and government pressure on voters, testifies to strong popular support for the Russian leader’s domestic and foreign policies. He also said that Russian-Armenian relations have grown even closer in the last several years.
“We are firmly committed to continuing to comprehensively develop the strategic alliance between Armenia and Russia in all directions of interstate interaction, which correspondents to the fundamental interests of our peoples and the need to ensure security and stability in the South Caucasus,” added the letter cited by Sarkisian’s press office.
Garegin likewise spoke of Russians’ “exceptional trust” in their longtime leader. Furthermore, he assured Putin that the Armenian people “harbor love and respect for you and Russia.”
Armenia has been a member of a Russian-led defense alliance of ex-Soviet states since 1992. It hosts thousands of Russian troops deployed along its border with Turkey.
Armenia also joined in 2015 the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Sarkisian unexpectedly announced his decision to make his country part of the Russian-led trade bloc in 2013. The move was widely attributed to Russian pressure on Yerevan.