YEREVAN — Armenia again ruled out a change of its traditional foreign policy orientation on Wednesday when it responded to Russia’s criticism of serious accusations levelled against former senior Armenian officials.

Spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry Tigran Balayan said today that “the priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy are to further expand and strengthen allied relations with Russia and to increase the efficiency of collaboration within CSTO and EAEU”.

Tigran Balayan said this while commenting on “the remarks from Russian experts and officials regarding recent events in Armenia” at the request of Arminfo.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that the high-profile criminal cases contradict the new Armenian government’s earlier assurances that it has “no intention to persecute its predecessors for political motives.” “In the last few days, we have repeatedly conveyed our concerns to the Armenian leadership,” he said in what was rare criticism of Yerevan publicly voiced by Moscow.

Lavrov referred to the prosecutions of former Armenian President Robert Kocharian, former Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunian and former Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Khachaturov, the current secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The three men are facing coup charges stemming from the March 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.

Tigran Balayan, said the criminal proceedings are part of the new government’s efforts to establish the rule of law and combat corruption. “These processes are not connected with Armenia’s foreign policy and should not be misinterpreted,” he said in his written comments.

In a clear reference to Khachaturov’s prosecution, Lavrov said that Yerevan is putting “the normal work” of Russian-led alliances of ex-Soviet states at risk. Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry described as “unprofessional” an Armenian proposal to the CSTO to replace Khachaturov by another, presumably Armenian, official.

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