“In case of confirmation, we will consider this step as unfriendly and not corresponding to allied relations [between the two countries,]” said Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. “The [official Russian] reaction will follow after receiving official confirmation.”
The pro-Armenian lawmaker, Konstantin Zatulin, said on Tuesday that he has been banned from entering Armenia over his strong criticism of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s administration. Zatulin publicized a letter from a senior Armenian parliament staffer notifying him that his further visits to the country are deemed “undesirable.”
Margarita Simonyan, the ethnic Armenian chief editor of the Russian television network RT and several other Kremlin-funded media outlets, said on Wednesday that she too has been blacklisted by the Armenian authorities. She gave no details.
Armenia’s National Security Service declined to confirm or deny the travel bans. But Alen Simonian, the parliament speaker close to Pashinian, did not “exclude” them. He hit out at Simonyan and “agents of various countries bearing Armenian surnames” who he said disrespect Armenia and its leaders.
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 Pashinian of planning to make far-reaching concessions to Azerbaijan and switch Armenia’s allegiance from Russia to the West.
Simonyan, who is one of the most influential figures in the Kremlin-controlled media, lambasted Pashinian even before the war. In July 2020, she accused Pashinian of turning Armenia into a “bridgehead of anti-Russian forces in the Caucasus.”
Zakharova said that both Zatulin and Simonyan are prominent public figures who stand for close ties between Russia and Armenia.
“I really wouldn’t like to see artificial reasons invented [by Yerevan] now that the West is trying to drive a wedge between us and our allies,” she told reporters.
The reported travel bans come amid mounting friction between Russia and Armenia which is raising questions about the future of their alliance. Armenian leaders have criticized Moscow and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization for not providing any military aid to Armenia or even condemning Azerbaijan’s offensive military operations launched at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border last week.
Earlier this week, Zakharova rejected “baseless allegations” that Moscow is not fulfilling its security obligations to Yerevan.