A senior Armenian official says Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s congratulatory message to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on his disputed reelection was in line with the agenda of Armenia’s peaceful 2018 revolution.
Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on August 16 that decisions like the one to congratulate Lukashenka are taken on the basis of a “comprehensive risk assessment.”
Pashinian immediately came under criticism from his political opponents and human rights activists in Armenia for sending “quick” congratulations to Lukashenka on August 10, hours after Belarus’s Central Election Commission published the preliminary results of the vote, triggering large-scale opposition protests against “rigged elections.”
Only a handful of world leaders have congratulated Lukashenka on his disputed election win. Among them are Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping. The European Union has said it does not recognize the results, and the United States has expressed deep concern over the election results and the unrest.
“Security-related and other major decisions have grounds, they are not born out of thin air,” Grigorian said, speaking on the Sunday Analytical Show by RFE/RL's Armenian Service. “In general, a complete risk assessment is made, and a decision is taken in the interests of the Republic of Armenia.”
Pashinian, who came to power as a result of widespread anti-government protests in May 2018 and earlier spent nearly two years in prison after being convicted of organizing mass disturbances during 2008 postelection protests, has refused to comment on criticism of his congratulations to Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus since 1994.
Grigorian, who was one of the leaders of the 2018 street protests that brought down the government, said that the protest movement’s leaders had announced that there would be no changes in Armenia’s foreign policy agenda.
“In other words, [Pashinian’s] message is completely in line with the agenda of the revolution. It ensures the continuity of the agenda of the revolution,” he said.
Armenia is a member of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and Collective Security Treaty Organization, both of which include Belarus.
Lukashenka’s main challenger, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has fled Belarus for neighboring Lithuania, refused to recognize Lukashenka’s victory, calling on her supporters to stage protests to seek an election rerun.
At least two people have been killed, hundreds have been injured, and thousands arrested in the government crackdown against protesters in Belarus.