Moscow Worried About Armenian Outcry

MOSCOW WORRIED ABOUT ARMENIAN OUTCRY

Armenialiberty.org
July 19 2013

Emil Danielyan
19.07.2013

Russia’s government signaled concerns on Friday about the possible
impact on Russian-Armenian relations of an uproar in Yerevan sparked
by the controversial treatment of an Armenian man prosecuted for a
deadly traffic accident near Moscow.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met the Armenian
ambassador in Moscow, Oleg Yesayan, to discuss the fallout from last
week’s collision of a heavy truck and a public bus that left 18 people
dead and more than 30 others wounded.

The truck was driven by, Hrachya Harutiunian, an Armenian migrant
worker. He was arrested and charged with causing multiple deaths
through violating traffic rules.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Yesayan offered “sincere
condolences” in connection with the bus crash at the meeting. “It
was confirmed from the Russian side that there will be a thorough and
objective investigation into that case, which will certainly respect
the legal rights of the accused,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Mutual concerns were expressed regarding ongoing undignified attempts
to exploit that tragedy for inflaming sentiments running counter
to the spirit of Russian-Armenian friendship,” the statement added
without giving further details.

It was a clear reference to the furious reaction in Armenia to
what many people there see as Harutiunian’s degrading treatment by
Russian law-enforcement bodies and a xenophobic coverage of the case
by the Russian media. A visibly shocked Harutiunian was made to wear
a woman’s hospital robe when he appeared before a Moscow court on
Monday. Russian state television emphasized his nationality in its
reports on the tragedy.

The driver’s wretched appearance led to a barrage of criticism from
Armenian state officials, opposition and civic figures and especially
the media. Some media commentators accused the Russian government of
deliberately humiliating the Armenian citizen.

The Russian TV images also triggered angry protests outside
the Russian Embassy in Yerevan. The embassy on Wednesday accused
“certain individuals” of exploiting the affair to whip up anti-Russian
sentiment in Armenia. It insisted that the fatal crash had “no ethnic
implications” but stopped short of criticizing Harutiunian’s televised
treatment.

Switzerland — Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin
answers questions after a press conference after the ninth session
of the Caucasus talks to settle the Russia-Georgia conflict at the
European headquarters of the UN in Geneva,Switzerland — Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin answers questions after a
press conference after the ninth session of the Caucasus talks to
settle the Russia-Georgia conflict at the European headquarters of
the UN in Geneva,

Switzerland — Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin
answers questions after a press conference after the ninth session
of the Caucasus talks to settle the Russia-Georgia conflict at the
European headquarters of the UN in Geneva, According to a spokesman
for the Armenian Embassy in Moscow, Russian officials have assured
embassy officials that their handling of the arrested suspect was an
unintentional “result of haste.”

However, a report in the “Moskovsky Komsomolets” daily on Friday
suggests that the Moscow police are unrepentant about their actions.

Citing unnamed police sources, the paper said the Russian investigators
consider the scandal the result of a “ploy” by Harutiunian’s
lawyers. It said they think that the lawyers “might have deliberately
not brought him new clothes so that he appears before the court in
a miserable way that will cause pity.”

One of the lawyers, Aleksandr Meltsev, said on Thursday that the
defense team would have promptly provided Harutiunian with appropriate
attire in hospital if it had been asked to. “We would have brought
him new clothes in half an hour,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Meanwhile, Armenia’s state human rights ombudsman, Karen Andreasian,
announced that he will travel to Moscow on Sunday to meet with the
arrested driver, his lawyers and “a number of officials dealing with
the matter.” Earlier this week, Andreasian condemned Harutiunian’s
ill-treatment and asked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Lukin,
to help ensure the due process of law in the investigation.

Russia already faced unusually strong criticism in Armenia after
it emerged last month that it has begun delivering $1 billion worth
of offensive weapons to Azerbaijan. The Armenian media, opposition
politicians and pundits accused Moscow of betraying its sole regional
ally. Top Russian security officials dismissed these accusations
when they visited Yerevan later in June. The Armenian government,
for its part, refrained from publicly deploring the Russian arms
supplies to Baku.

Russia’s traditionally close relationship with Armenia is further
called into question by signs that Moscow is unhappy with Yerevan’s
reluctance to join a Russian-led Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states
and its plans to sign an “association agreement” with the European
Union. Vyacheslav Kovalenko, until recently Russia’s ambassador to
Armenia, warned of serious damage to bilateral ties earlier this
month. Konstantin Zatulin, a prominent Russian pundit and former
parliamentarian close to the Kremlin, likewise criticized “the
disdainful attitude to the Eurasian integration project in Armenia”
on July 16.

Still, Sergey Markedonov, a respected Russian analyst, downplayed the
significance of these developments. In an interview with the Yerevan
daily “Haykakan Zhamanak” published on Thursday, Markedonov blamed
the “very inadequate behavior” of the Armenian and Russian media for
the fallout from the Moscow bus crash. “I don’t think that it will
somehow affect Russian-Armenian relations,” he said.

Markedonov, who is a visiting fellow at the Washington-based Center for
Strategic and International Studies, also argued that neither President
Vladimir Putin nor any other Russian leader has publicly disapproved
of Armenia’s European integration drive. “Russia needs Armenia,
and Armenia needs Russia,” he said. “The two have mutual interests.”

From: A. Papazian

http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/25051471.html

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