Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian held talks with Russian officials in Moscow on Thursday amid the continuing political crisis in their country.
An Armenian government statement said Gevorgian met with senior officials from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s staff. It said they discussed, among other things, “the internal political situation in Armenia.”
Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, did not confirm the information, however. “I am not aware of that,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as telling reporters. “As you know, we are in Saint Petersburg right now.”
According to the TASS news agency, Peskov reiterated that the street protests that have forced Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian into resignation are Armenia’s “internal affair.” “We want to hope that the situation will be settled as soon as possible within the constitutional framework,” he said.
Putin phoned his new Armenian counterpart, Armen Sarkissian, on Wednesday to discuss the lingering crisis. According to the Kremlin, he said that “all political forces in the country need to display restraint and readiness to solve existing problems through a constructive dialogue.”
Also on Wednesday, Russian diplomats in Yerevan met with Nikol Pashinian, an opposition politician leading the nationwide protests against Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia. Addressing thousands of supporters afterwards, Pashinian said he received assurances that Russia will not meddle in Armenian politics. He blasted “false” rumors that Moscow wants to see acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian retain his post.
Meanwhile, Nalbandian met with Russian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. “They discussed, in particular, the situation on the Line of Contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan,” a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told reporters.Neither Zakharova nor the Armenian Foreign Ministry gave further details of the talks.
Earlier this week, the Armenian government and the Karabakh military accused Azerbaijan of massing troops and military hardware along the Karabakh frontlines. Yerevan warned Baku against attempting exploit the political turmoil in Armenia to launch offensive military operations. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denied the Armenian claims.
Responding to those claims, U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group issued a joint statement underscoring “the critical importance of the sides respecting the ceasefire at this delicate time and, in particular, keeping heavy equipment positioned in the rear of the frontlines.”