The Region in Brief


A second Russian national in Armenia has been arrested by Russian troops. Anatoly Nikolayevich Shchetin, who sought refuge in Armenia after refusing to fight in Ukraine, was kidnapped by Russian soldiers on Monday and is being held at Russia’s 102nd military base in Gyumri. In December 2023, Dmitriy Setrakov, who also fled the draft, was abducted by Russian soldiers in Gyumri and transferred to Russia. The Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly has called on Armenian authorities to ensure Shchetin’s release and prevent his return to Russia. The human rights group has received reports of Russian emigres in Armenia being followed by people dressed in Russian military fatigues. In February, in response to Setrakov’s detention, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan said that Armenia is investigating the case and there may be “certain consequences, because, of course, we cannot tolerate illegal actions on the territory of our country.”


Georgia has come under domestic and international criticism after its parliament revived the controversial foreign agent draft law. On April 9, several thousand people marched in Tbilisi to protest the bill, which would label any organization that receives at least 20-percent of its funding from international sources as “carrying out the interests of a foreign power.” On April 8, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the bill “would derail Georgia from its European path” and “impede independent media organizations working to provide access for Georgian citizens to high-quality information.” The bill was previously introduced by the ruling Georgian Dream party in March 2023 and rescinded after mass protests. 


Spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Nasser Kanani told reporters today that Iran is against turning the South Caucasus into an arena of geopolitical competition. Kanani said this in response to Armenian PM Pashinyan’s April 5 meeting in Brussels with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which focused on increasing Armenia’s resilience and diversifying its economy. “Strengthening economic cooperation and expanding communication play an effective role in establishing peace and stability and economic development in the Caucasus region,” Kanani said, as quoted by IRNA news agency. Iranian officials have previously criticized mediation of regional issues by foreign powers.


Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan will not attend an upcoming meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on April 12 in Minsk, Belarus. This announcement comes amid a growing rift between Armenia and its traditional ally Russia, whom the former has accused of failing to stop Azerbaijan’s military assault on Artsakh in September 2023. Last week, Armenia sent a peacekeeping brigade commander to a meeting in Moscow of the chiefs of the general staff of the armed forces of member states of the CIS, an organization of post-Soviet states. 

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.

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