Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Nikol Pashinian on being reappointed as Armenia’s prime minister as a result of last month’s general elections.
“I expect that our dialogue and constructive joint efforts will contribute to a further strengthening of the Russian-Armenian strategic interaction as well as advancement of integration processes in the Eurasian space,” Putin said in a congratulatory message cited by the Kremlin. “This is undoubtedly in the interests of our brotherly peoples.”
Putin noted the “convincing victory” of Pashinian’s My Step alliance in the December 9 elections when they last met in Moscow on December 27. “I want to wish you success in the realization of all objectives which you set for yourself and your team,” he said.
The Russian leader stopped short of congratulating Pashinian on the election victory in writing, however, fuelling Armenian media speculation about his discontent with the new authorities in Yerevan.
The Russian ambassador in Yerevan, Sergey Kopyrkin, downplayed this fact earlier in December. Citing the “inter-state protocol,” Kopyrkin indicated that Putin will send a congratulatory message after Pashinian is formally reappointed as prime minister.
Putin congratulated former President Serzh Sarkisian two days after the latter’s Republican Party of Armenia won the previous parliamentary elections held in April 2017.
Immediately after his latest talks with Pashinian, Putin sent New Year greetings to Robert Kocharian, another former Armenian president who is now prosecuted on coup charges. He similarly telephoned Kocharian in August to congratulate him on his 64th birthday anniversary.
Kocharian, who accuses Pashinian of waging a political “vendetta” against him, served as president from 1998-2008. Putin has been in power since 2000.
In July, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the prosecutions of Kocharian, as well as two retired Armenian generals facing the same charges. One of them, Yuri Khachaturov, was the secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the time.
Putin’s December 27 meeting with the Armenian premier was also followed by the announcement of a 10 percent increase in the price of Russian natural gas imported by Armenia. Pashinian’s government is now scrambling to ensure that the gas price for Armenian households and other consumers remains the same.