Visiting Moscow on Wednesday, parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan criticized pro-government Russian parliamentarians for taking part in what he described as an anti-Armenian demonstration held in Baku.
The Azerbaijani government organized the demonstration on Tuesday as part of an annual commemoration of hundreds of Azerbaijani civilians killed in February 1992 following the capture of the Nagorno-Karabakh village of Khojali by Karabakh Armenian forces. It accuses the Armenian side of massacring them, a charge strongly denied by the authorities in Stepanakert and Yerevan.
The demonstration was attended by three members of the Russian State Duma. It was also covered in detail by a state-run Russian TV channel.
The Armenian ambassador to Russia, Vartan Toghanian, condemned the lawmakers in a statement issued on Wednesday. Mirzoyan also brought up the issue when he gave a speech in Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, later in the day.
“I have to note with regret that despite the high level of relations and allied partnership between our countries as well as Russia’s consistent efforts at a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh, just yesterday some of our Russian colleagues participated in a markedly anti-Armenian action held in Baku and aimed at undermining regional stability,” said Mirzoyan.
He said he is particularly “bewildered” by the fact that one of the State Duma members, Irina Rodnina, is a member of a Russian-Armenian commission on inter-parliamentary cooperation.
Mirzoyan at the same time praised Russia’s role in long-running international efforts to end the Karabakh conflict. He also emphasized Armenia’s continuing commitment to a “special” and “strategic” relationship with Russia.
Mirzoyan further mentioned the recent dispatch of 83 Armenian medics, sappers and other military personnel to Syria, which was welcomed by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Mirzoyan arrived in Moscow earlier this week at the head of a large delegation comprising deputies from the three political forces represented in Armenia’s parliament. He met with Federation Council speaker Valentina Matvienko on Tuesday. Matvienko stressed that he will be the first Armenian speaker to address the council.