News / Europe

Russia's Putin Faces Protests as He Woos Armenia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) walks with Armenian President Serge Sarksyan after arriving in the Armenian city of Gyumri, Dec. 2, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) walks with Armenian President Serge Sarksyan after arriving in the Armenian city of Gyumri, Dec. 2, 2013.
Reuters
About 500 people marched through the capital of Armenia on Monday to denounce visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin and to protest against plans to join a Moscow-led customs union.

Some of the crowd in central Yerevan held banners declaring  “Putin, go home” or “No to the USSR” - a reference to the Russian leader's efforts to bind former Soviet republics together more closely in economic and security alliances.

Putin flew to the South Caucasus country for talks on its decision in September to join the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, but began his visit in another city, Gyumri. He was due later Monday in Yerevan.

The rally in Yerevan followed much larger protests in Ukraine, which suspended plans to sign a trade deal with the European Union last week and decided to rebuild economic ties with Russia instead.

Kremlin critics in the West accuse Putin of putting pressure on Ukraine, Armenia and other former Soviet republics to reject agreements that would increase their integration with the EU.

Putin has made clear Moscow wants to increase its influence in the strategic region sandwiched between Russia, Turkey, Iran and the oil and gas deposits of the Caspian Sea basin.

“We are going to strengthen our position in the South Caucasus, drawing on the best of what we have inherited from ancestors and good relations with all countries in the region,” Putin told a Russian-Armenian regional forum in Gyumri.

“Participation in the Customs Union... already is bringing Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus tangible dividends,” he said.

Police blocked a central street as the demonstrators headed closer to the headquarters of President Serzh Sarksyan's administration, and protesters handed over a letter urging the government to renounce its decision to join the customs union.

Russia is the biggest foreign investor in Armenia and its  largest trading partner. Bilateral trade grew 22 percent to $1.2 billion last year. Most trade has been imports to Armenia.

Three years ago Russia extended its lease on a military base in the landlocked, resource-poor nation of 3.2 million until 2044, ensuring it maintains a firm foothold in the South Caucasus.

The region also includes Azerbaijan, which has been embroiled in a territorial dispute with Armenia since the Soviet collapse, and Georgia, with which Russia fought a five-day war in 2008.


(Reporting by Hasmik Mrktchyan and Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Steve Gutterman and Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Timothy Heritage) ^REUTERS@

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid