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Moscow Hopes For Pre-Election Calm In Armenia


RUSSIA -- A view of Kremlin' Grand Kremlin Palace, towers, churches and frozen Moskva (Moscow) river in Moscow, February 14, 2018

Russia hopes that political tensions in Armenia will not boil over in the run-up to snap parliamentary elections expected in June, a senior Russian diplomat said in an interview published on Friday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told the “Novoye Vremya” Armenian newspaper that while Moscow considers the elections Armenia’s internal affair it “cannot stay indifferent to what is happening in a friendly country.”

“We call on all political forces in the republic to show restraint and look for reasonable compromises to consolidate Armenian society. We express hope that during the pre-election period everything will go peacefully and within the framework of the constitution and serve as a starting point for achieving long-term stability in Armenia,” he said when asked whether Moscow supports any of the Armenian election contenders.

The Kremlin confirmed, meanwhile, that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian are scheduled to meet in Moscow on April 7. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the upcoming Armenian elections will be on the agenda of their talks.

Pashinian announced on March 18 plans to hold the elections following renewed opposition protests against his rule which were sparked by Armenia’s defeat in last year’s war with Azerbaijan.

The Armenian military’s top brass added its voice to opposition demands for Pashinian’s resignation in an unprecedented statement issued on February 25. The prime minister condemned the statement as a coup attempt.

Moscow expressed concern at the deepening political crisis in Armenia. Putin discussed it with Pashinian in a phone call later on February 25.

In recent months, prominent members of Russia’s large Armenian community, among them Kremlin-linked media figures and wealthy businessmen, have also called for Pashinian’s resignation. Their statements have fuelled more speculation about Putin’s distrust of Pashinian.

Rudenko insisted, however, that Russian-Armenian relations have been “developing dynamically at various levels and regardless of any external or internal developments.” He argued in particular that Putin and Pashinian had more than 60 phone calls last year.

Most of those conversations apparently took place during the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

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