By Irina Hovhannisyan
A group of pro-Western civic activists and other prominent Armenians strongly criticized Armenia’s government for not condemning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
They compared the Russian occupation of Crimea to Nazi Germany’s annexation of neighboring countries and called for international sanctions against Moscow.
“We condemn the undignified silence of Armenia’s authorities in connection with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” read a statement issued by 12 members the Armenian Committee of Solidarity with Maydan, which was formed last month to support the anti-government revolt in Ukraine.
One of the signatories, artist Boris Yeghiazarian, is a Ukrainian national who actively participated in anti-government protest in Kiev’s Independence Square, also known as Maydan. Four other signatories live in the United States and Europe.
Official Yerevan has pointedly declined to react to the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich and the ensuing Russian military operation in Crimea. Armenia’s main political groups have also avoided any official criticism of Moscow’s actions strongly condemned by the West. Their silence reflects Armenia’s strong military and economic dependence on Russia.
“In this situation, it would be good if Armenia had a clear position. It’s wrong to constantly have an ambiguous and uncertain stance,” said Boris Navasardian, a member of the Armenian Committee of Solidarity with Maydan and the chairman of the Yerevan Press Club.
Navasardian acknowledged that open criticism of the Russian actions in Ukraine would infuriate Moscow. “But keeping silent is also dangerous because if events unfold in a way that will result in sanctions against Russia, Armenia will find itself in a very hopeless position,” he told Radio Free Europe’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Davit Shahnazarian, a veteran politician also affiliated with the committee, said the Armenian authorities may actually come under Russian pressure to support the intervention, “I hope that they will at least be able to maintain this undignified silence,” he told reporters.
“In theory, Russia could force Armenia to make some statements and even something more, but I think that would cause very serious resentment in Armenia,” said Shahnazarian. “Let’s hope that the Armenian authorities will be prudent enough not to bow to such pressure.”