Russia’s President Vladimir Putin joined U.S. and European officials on Monday in urging Armenia’s government and opposition to resolve their bloody post-election standoff through a “dialogue.”
Putin was reported to make the appeal in a phone call with Prime Minister and President-elect Serzh Sarkisian. Both the Kremlin and the Armenian government said he again congratulated Sarkisian on his victory in last month’s disputed presidential election and invited him to visit Moscow soon.
“Vladimir Putin attached importance to the need to overcome the political situation in Armenia that arose during the post-election period by political methods, by means of a dialogue with the opposition,” Sarkisian’s press office said in a statement. In Putin’s view, the statement added, such dialogue is important not only for restoring political stability in Armenia but also “further strengthening” Russian-Armenian relations.
Putin’s reported remarks are quite noteworthy given the strong Russian support which Armenia’s current leadership has enjoyed throughout his eight-year presidency. While recognizing the outcome of the Armenian presidential vote, the Kremlin has stopped short of publicly endorsing the authorities’ post-election crackdown on the opposition led by Sarkisian’s main election challenger, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.