Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent New Year greetings to Robert Kocharian, his former Armenian counterpart prosecuted on coup charges.
Kocharian’s office said on Friday that Putin wished him “good health, strength of the spirit and grit” in a congratulatory message.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed that the Russian leader congratulated Kocharian in connection with the upcoming New Year and Christmas holidays and wished him “all the best.”
Putin already made a point of telephoning Kocharian to congratulate him on his 64th birthday anniversary on August 31. Peskov said at the time that the two men “have been maintaining warm relations that are not influenced by any events taking place in Armenia.”
The phone call came just over a month after Kocharian was first arrested on charges of illegally using the armed forces against opposition protesters in Yerevan in February-March 2008.
In late July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced the prosecutions of Kocharian as well as two retired Armenian generals facing the same charges. An Armenian appeals court freed the ex-president from custody on August 13.
Kocharian, who denies the charges as politically motivated, described Putin’s call a show of “serious support.” He was again arrested on December 7.
Kocharian ruled Armenia from 1998 to 2008. Putin has been Russia’s president since 2000.
News of Putin’s congratulatory message to Kocharian came the day after the Russian leader held fresh talks in Moscow with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
Pashinian was a key speaker at the 2008 protests and spent nearly two years in prison because of that. He has strongly defended the criminal case against Kocharian, denying any political motives behind it.