CSTO Chief Charged With Overthrowing Armenia's Constitutional Order

YEREVAN -- The Armenian chief of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has been charged with overthrowing Armenia's constitutional order amid a probe into Yerevan's 2008 postelection crackdown that brought Serzh Sarkisian into power for a decade as president.

Armenia's Special Investigative Service (SIS) said on July 27 that it has formally charged Yuri Khachaturov of involvement in an "overthrow of the constitutional order." The announcement came a day after the SIS interrogated Khachaturov in Yerevan.

Officials said Khachaturov would be released after paying a bail of about $10,000. A request to the court by the SIS to order Khachaturov's pretrial detention was still being considered, officials said.

He told reporters upon his arrival to court that he denied any wrongdoing.

The CSTO is a regional grouping that includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Critics have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using the CSTO to bolster Moscow's influence in former Soviet republics and to counter the European Union and NATO.

The 66-year-old Khachaturov, who was born in Georgia, is the CSTO's secretary-general. He had been chief of the General Staff of Armenia's armed forces from 2008-16.

The SIS leveled the same charges against former President Robert Kocharian on July 26.

Kocharian has been accused of ordering the violent dispersal in March 2008 of opposition protests staged in the wake of a disputed presidential election.

Khachaturov was Armenia's deputy defense minister at the time.

Eight protesters and two police officers were killed in the crackdown, which came about a month before Kocharian completed his second and final presidential term. Kocharian has denied the charges as politically motivated.