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How many Pashinyan supporters and members of his team have been banned from entering Russia?

March 28 2024, 12:15

A very remarkable event took place the day before, which in fact remained practically overlooked by the Armenian public and the media. Russia has officially banned the former chair of the so-called Anti-Crisis Committee of Artsakh, activist Tigran Petrosyan, from entering the country.

With regard to the situation, Petrosyan himself wonders why he was banned from entering Russia. “I flew to Moscow yesterday for a meeting; I was supposed to return after the meeting. I was detained at the airport for 14 hours, half of which I spent locked up in a dirty room without water…In the morning, I was sent back to Yerevan… these are the little things of life, but with entry (into Russia – ed.), they were unfair, and I turned out to be right,” Petrosyan said.

It is no secret that Petrosyan, along with another activist from Artsakh, Artur Osipyan, has almost always been at the epicenter of protests in Nagorno-Karabakh, especially after December 2022—that is, after the beginning of the blockade.

These activists organized marches to the headquarters of the peacekeepers, blocked exits from the territory of the peacekeepers’ base, spread information that the peacekeepers allegedly indicated the exact timing of unblocking roads, claimed that Vladimir Putin personally deceived people, published secret documents about Russia’s proposals to the authorities of Artsakh, which Nikol Pashinyan and his Western partners opposed, etc. The actions of these activists, and in particular Tigran Petrosyan, fit into the narratives put forward by Nikol Pashinyan and his team, who recognized Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan in October 2022, changing both the status of Artsakh itself and the status of Russian peacekeepers in this territory. However, they shifted responsibility for their political decisions onto Russia and President Vladimir Putin personally.

In 2020, Russian troops entered the disputed territory, the status of which was on the agenda of the trilateral talks (Yerevan-Moscow-Baku), and after October 2022, the territory of Armenian Artsakh turned into the territory of Azerbaijan, while the Russian troops turned into foreign troops on the territory of Azerbaijan. Petrosyan knew about this, but he did not make any significant comments about the Armenian authorities; moreover, according to a number of observers, the actions he conducted contributed to the growth of Russophobic sentiments.

In this situation, it is also striking that Petrosyan believed that he could play “political gambling” with a state and do it without consequences for his personal comfort. However, the ban on his entry proves that the Russian leadership understands that the special operation regarding the surrender of Artsakh and the expelling of the Russian military presence cannot remain without political consequences for those who have done it. Petrosyan was one of such odious actors, although he says the opposite now.

This fact, (as well as information that a number of members of Nikol Pashinyan’s team are also banned from entering Russia, including MP Gurgen Arsenyan), and the information in the Russian media about the supply of weapons by Azerbaijan to Ukraine, indicate that the Russian authorities may have begun to review their policy towards Transcaucasia.

In this situation, it looks paradoxical that after the “Russophobic concerts” in Artsakh, people may make attempts to travel to Russia, as well as possible attempts to protect themselves from potential future problems by rejecting the mandate. The situation with Petrosyan should have been a lesson for many.

However, eventually, we end up in a situation in which relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation have experienced such a crisis that a ban on the entry of certain figures into the territory of their countries has become quite an ordinary way of communication. Here we are talking about both a ban on the entry of Armenian citizens into Russia and a ban on the entry of Russian citizens into Armenia.

Did Nikol Pashinyan receive a mandate in 2021 to bring Armenian-Russian relations to this level? Who gave him this mandate, when, and how did it happen? Is it possible that we are dealing with a political deception here when the public was promised one thing but the policy was conducted in a completely different way?

Think about it…