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Russian, Kazakh Leaders Discuss CSTO Leadership


Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev speak during a Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting in Sochi, Russia, May 14, 2018.

The presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan spoke on Sunday about who should run the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) following criminal charges brought by Armenian authorities against the Russian-led bloc’s current secretary general, Yuri Khachaturov.

Khachaturov, who is Armenia’s former top army general, is facing coup charges stemming from the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan. Russia has strongly criticized an Armenian law-enforcement agency’s decision late last month to prosecute him. Following the criticism he was allowed to return to Moscow and continue to perform his CSTO duties for the time being.

Moscow has also scoffed at Yerevan’s efforts to replace Khachaturov by another Armenian secretary general. It has said that Yerevan must formally “recall” Khachaturov before asking the other CSTO states to pick his replacement.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian telephoned Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev on August 7 to discuss the issue. Pashinian also had a phone conversation with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on July 28.

Nazarbayev singled out “the issue of CSTO secretary general” in his opening remarks at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin held in the Kazakh city of Aktau. He said it “has become a problem.”

Putin likewise noted that they will discuss “issues of problematic character,” including the selection of the next CSTO secretary general. Neither leader made public statements to that effect after the talks.

The CSTO member states agreed in 2015 that their representatives will take turns to run the organization on a rotating basis. They appointed Khachaturov as secretary general in April 2017 after almost two years of delay reportedly resulting from Kazakhstan’s and Belarus’s reluctance to have an Armenian hold the position because of their warm ties with Azerbaijan. The two nations dropped their objections under pressure from Russia, according to Russian media reports.

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