Zatulin publicized on Tuesday a letter from a senior Armenian parliament staffer notifying him that his further visits to Armenia are deemed “undesirable” because his “recent public pronouncements addressed to the Republic of Armenia” damaged Russian-Armenian relations.
“I regard this as an offensive move,” Zatulin wrote on Telegram. “It was sudden for us.”
A parliament spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the letter sent to him at the initiative of leadership of the National Assembly affiliated with Pashinian’s Civil Contract party. Parliament speaker Alen Simonian, did not personally comment on the entry ban.
Hrachya Hakobian, another pro-government lawmaker and Pashinian’s brother-in-law, defended the unprecedented measure, accusing Zatulin of meddling in Armenia’s internal affairs.
“Why should we allow a citizen and especially an official of any foreign country to somehow interfere in our internal political life and internal political affairs?” Hakobian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Haykakan Zhamanak,” a Yerevan newspaper belonging to Pashinian’s family, also alleged such meddling in a news report on the entry ban posted on its website. It noted that Zatulin recently called for the Armenian prime minister’s resignation.
Zatulin, 64, is the deputy chairman of a Russian State Duma committee on relations with former Soviet republics and “Eurasian integration.” The veteran lawmaker is known for his pro-Armenian views on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, having visited Armenia and Karabakh on numerous occasions. He was blacklisted by Azerbaijan a decade ago.
Zatulin, who is affiliated with Russia’s ruling party, has been increasingly critical of the current Armenian government since the 2020 war in Karabakh. Earlier this month, he accused it of planning to make far-reaching concessions to Azerbaijan and switch Armenia’s allegiance from Russia to the West.
“Konstantin Zatulin is one of the few committed individuals who continue to firmly stand by Armenia and Artsakh (Karabakh),” said Gegham Manukian of the main opposition Hayastan alliance. “Such treatment of him is just cheap vengeance.”
Other Armenian opposition figures also condemned the authorities’ decision to declare Zatulin person no grata.
Zatulin was due to arrive in Yerevan for a regular session of the Lazarev Club, a nongovernmental group uniting Russian and Armenian politicians, public figures and entrepreneurs. In a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian also publicized on Tuesday, he asked the Armenian government to help him and other Russian participants of the meeting visit the Armenian resort town of Jermuk which was shelled by Azerbaijani forces during large-scale border clashes last month.