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Armenian Lawmaker Denies Voting Against Russia In PACE


FRANCE – A session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 25, 2017

A senior Armenian pro-government lawmaker said on Tuesday he did not vote against reinstating Russia in the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) contrary to voting results reported by the human rights body.

The PACE voted on Monday to restore Russia’s voting rights which were revoked in 2014 following Moscow's takeover of Crimea and its backing of militant separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's delegation to the PACE walked out in protest, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy voiced his "disappointment" with the decision.

The decision was backed by 118 members of the Strasbourg-based assembly, including two of the four members of the Armenian delegation: Naira Zohrabian and Edmon Marukian. The latter are affiliated with Armenian opposition parties.

The two other Armenian members of the PACE, Ruben Rubinan and Hovannes Igitian, represent Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step alliance. According to voting results posted on the PACE website, Rubinian voted against the pro-Russian measure, while Igitian did not vote at all.

Armenia -- Ruben Rubinian, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations, speaks to RFE/RL in Yerevan, March 10, 2019.
Armenia -- Ruben Rubinian, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations, speaks to RFE/RL in Yerevan, March 10, 2019.

“My vote was registered as a vote against, rather than for [Russia’s voting rights,] for technical reasons,” Rubinian claimed in a Facebook post. He said he made a statement to that effect on the PACE floor on Tuesday morning.

Rubinian, who is the chairman of the Armenian parliament’s foreign relations committee, said he “welcomed the Russian delegation and its head Pyotr Tolstoy that returned to the PACE.”

“Much to the chagrin of some doomsayers, no problems whatsoever arose with our Russian colleagues and we are now considering organizing an acquaintance party,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Armen Ashotian, the deputy chairman of the former ruling Republican Party, denounced the Armenian vote in the PACE as a “disgrace.” “Pashinian’s efforts to break up the Russian-Armenian strategic alliance could cost our country dearly,” he charged.

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