08/06/2018, 10.09
RUSSIA
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Putin's thorny issues of Armenia and Moldova

by Vladimir Rozanskij

In Yerevan the former pro-Russian president, Robert Kocharian, is accused of "reversal of the constitutional order and usurpation of power", together with Gen. Jurij Khachaturov, pupil of Moscow. In 2008 they stifled the street demonstrations with violence. Moldova seeks to detach itself from submission to Russia, to move towards the European Union.

 

Moscow (AsiaNews) - In recent days, some choices of two countries bordering the Russian Federation have provoked very negative reactions in Moscow which sees its control over the "ex-Soviet" Russian world slipping. 

On July 28 in Armenia the former president Robert Kocharian was arrested (right in the picture), for many years the guarantor of loyalty to Russia, together with his close collaborator, General Jurij Khachaturov. The accusation is that he used violence against the demonstrations in 2008, after the elections that brought the Moscow candidate to the presidency.

On August 2 it was the parliament of Moldova that displeased its former Soviet masters, proposing a change to the Constitution that includes the so-called "European pillar", that is the fundamental orientation of the country to foster its relationship with the European Union, which led to unrest and internal conflict in Ukraine. Moldova, always divided between attraction to the great Romanian homeland and the submission to powerful Russia, risks in turn re-proposing the geopolitical dilemma that has isolated Putin's Russia with respect to Europe and America in recent years.

Armenia's recent "velvet revolution" brought Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to government  who experienced the repressions of 2008 first hand. He was then a member of the presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan's electoral staff, who was defeated by the designated successor of Kocharian, Serž Sargsyan who was overthrown by Pashinian himself. The current prime minister was arrested and sentenced to seven years, and was released in 2011.

The arrest of the historic pro-Russian ex-president was the culmination of a vast campaign to fight corruption and widespread crime in Armenia, which even led to requests for  the resignation of the Katolikos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Karekin II, in office since 1999 and accused by many parts of connivance with the corrupt power of the last 20 years. After the arrest of some deputies, Kocharian will now be tried for "reversal of the constitutional order and usurpation of power". He would be the first head of state remaining in command after the end of the USSR to be condemned.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been extremely critical of the Armenian leadership for the arrest of Kocharian and Khachaturov. The Moscow protégé did not manage to take refuge in the arms of his allies, as did former Ukrainian President Viktor Janukovich in 2014. Instead General Kachaturov's lawyer asked and obtained the opportunity to go to Moscow "while remaining at the disposal of the Yerevan investigation".

The alliance between Armenia and Russia is at stake, which mainly thanks to the management of Kocharian actually controls the neighbor's economy. The same stakes are affecting politics in Moldova, another former Soviet republic on the border between Western and Eastern influences. The reform approved by the Chişinău parliament is a signal launched in Brussels, and a slap in the face to Moscow, in a country deeply divided between pro-Russian and pro-European.

Moldova, like Armenia, is also preparing the parliamentary elections and expects the showdown in February 2019. The favorites would be the socialists, who try to put together the two souls of the country, but it's too early to make predictions about the winners . Democrats are currently in power, who need an alliance with the two groups of liberals and liberal democrats to confirm the approval of the reform on the "European pillar" in autumn, along with another much-discussed measure: replacement of the official language of the country, from the Moldovan (very influenced by the Slavic) to the Romanian, the Latin definitely more "European" language.

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