The new Armenian authorities’ actions against former government officials have driven a wedge between Moscow and Yerevan, threatening a deepening spat between the two strategic allies, the Russian Kommersant reports.
In an analytical article commenting upon the recent developments in the country, the paper addresses particularly the prosecution of Yuri Khchatrov, the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) secretary-general, describing the criminal case against him as a major blow to the intergovernmental military alliance’s reputation.
“The Kremlin does not rule out the possibility that another country’s representative may take over the CSTO’s management. What’s even more, it [the criminal proceeding] calls into question the [$]100 million worth weapons supply deal for Armenia,” the paper says, citing top managers of two Russian major arms industry companies
Noting that Khachaturov was released on bail shortly after his arrest ruling last week (unlike Robert Kocharyan, the second president of Armenia, also indicted on similar charges), the paper further says that Yerevan had not given an earlier warning to its partners in the CSTO of the possibility of such criminal cases.Sources close to the Organization reportedly told the paper that “non-regional players” may have their hand in the matter.
Khachaturov’s attorney, Mihran Poghosyan, is quoted as telling RIA Noosti that he has personally submitted a motion to the Special Investigative Service of Armenia, requesting consent to permit his client’s departure from the country “as the head of an important international organization”. But the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Tigran Balayan, told Kommersant that “Yerevan has already sent a request to the CSTO Secretariat for initiating a process for replacing Khachaturov.” Representatives from the CSTO’s central office, however, say they haven’t so far received any document from Yerevan.
Khachaturov’s possible replacement is unlikely to be on the agenda until November 8, the date when the CSTO’s top body, the Collective Security Council, convenes its regular meeting, bringing together the leaders of all the member states.
Citing its sources from different Russian government agencies, the paper says that no automatic procedure is going to be applied for appointing the Armenian candidate. A source close to the Russian presidential administration said the Armenian authorities’ steps “tremendously harm the Organization’s reputation” and reportedly expressed a strong surprise that they “have not so far developed the proper understanding of the situation”. If no candidate from Armenia is appointed, Belarus will be the next country in alphabetical order to nominate a candidate to head the organization, says the paper.