Yerevan /Mediamax/. “Armenia’s loyalty in foreign policy matters is not enough for the Kremlin,” Russian journalist Konstantin Eggert writes in his weekly column for Deutsche Welle.
We have selected certain relevant excerpts from Eggert’s column.
The “case of the century” and the test of democracy
“Is there an element of personal vengeance in Pashinyan’s actions? Yes, perhaps. Is there a real reason for criminal prosecution of Kocharyan and the generals? Yes, undoubtedly. The presidential elections of 2008 when the authorities were clearly pushing for Serzh Sargsyan’s candidacy and the protests that followed are definitely a case to be investigated. Will the investigation be unbiased? That is difficult to say, but this case of the century will not pass without maximum publicity.
The court hearings will be the biggest exam for Armenian democracy since the country gained independence in 1991.”
“The Kremlin is furious”
“The official Moscow is furious. Firstly, the fact of criminal prosecution of its minions, even former ones, is perceived as a political challenge to Russia’s dominant position in Armenian politics. Secondly, the prosecution can easily lead to discussions of Kremlin’s role in the crushing of the 2008 protests. I do not believe Kocharyan will remain silent. Obviously, he will cite the pressure from Putin and use it for his defense. Thirdly, the Russian leadership is growing progressively more troubled by Pashinyan’s anti-corruption campaign.
For the Kremlin, corruption is a key method of maintaining influence in post-Soviet area. As Mikheil Saakashvili’s Georgia showed, changes in internal politics quite quickly affect the foreign policy of the state, even if not directly. The more transparent the governance, the more foreign investment arrives, the more diverse foreign contacts become.
I do not mean membership in NATO. Armenia has neither desire nor chance to join the alliance. Any attempts at integration will be blocked by Turkey. The security of Armenia and the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh depend on Russia. Even Nikol Pashinyan does not dispute that. While visiting Moscow, he sang an ode to CSTO and the Customs Union, Moscow’s two chief projects for keeping post-Soviet countries in its orbit. However, the Armenian Prime Minister has his own priorities. People demand that he fights against corruption, revives the economy and attracts investment. The trust mandate he received in spring can disappear very quickly.”
“But Russia is still not satisfied. Armenia’s loyalty in foreign policy matters is not enough for the Kremlin. It wants full control and the specific Moscow-style “stability”, which is achieved through shadow agreements, prosecution of political opponents, and cross-border corruption.
The stubborn unwillingness to speak respectfully even with allies and to understand the cobwebs of local politics (which is much more democratic and free in Armenia than in Russia) will lead the official Moscow to new defeats in post-Soviet area, possibly even in the countries it considers allies at the moment.”