“Union of Informed Citizens” NGO has conducted an investigation into the groups which have been fighting for months against the adoption of a domestic violence law in Armenia, claiming that “it is a bill imposed by immoral Europe.” The NGO’s research has found out that the main opposers of the bill – Pan-Armenian Parental Committee; Stop G7; Yerevan Geopolitical Club; HASAK Political Party; “Luys” Information and Analytical Center; For Restoration of Sovereignty; Iravunk Newspaper; Sputnik Armenia – are either pro-Russian groups or those heavily dependent on Russian money.
Below is the organization’s report on their findings;
“Pan-Armenian Parental Committee”
One of the most active protesters against the law is Arman Boshyan. He leads the “Pan-Armenian Parental Committee” and has been advocating intolerance against the law on equality between men and women through his Facebook and YouTube pages. Today, together with writer and publicist Lia Avetisyan, he is advocating for rejecting the law on domestic violence.
It is noteworthy that the Pan-Armenian Parental Committee is a non-official branch of the “All-Russian Parental Resistance” movement founded by Sergey Kurghinyan, an Armenian based in Russia. Kurghinyan, in turn, has actively backed Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.
For instance, weeks before the Malaysia Airlines Boeing was hit with “Buk” missile of the Russian forces in Ukraine, Kurghinyan had stated in Donetsk that “the real civil society are the electronic engineers that are now repairing the “Buk” systems. Moreover, as can be seen from the picture, Arman Arman Ghukasyan and Sergey Kurghinyan Ghuksyan also knows Kurghinyan.
Stop-g7.com website and its YouTube channel are carrying out direct propaganda against the domestic violence law. This team goes even further by not only condemning the law, but also the struggle against domestic violence in general.
When examining the Stop G7 in Armenia closed group on Facebook, we can get an understanding of who are related to this team. It includes aforementioned Arman Boshyan, as well as Hayk Ayvazyan famous for his scandalous publications (he is the group administrator). Ayvazyan became famous recently when during a conference, he made a statement about “findings” according to which biological weapons are being prepared in the US-funded laboratories in Armenia and that it is a threat to the national security of Armenia (it did not take much effort to reveal that the information was false).
“Yerevan Geopolitical Club”
“Yerevan Geopolitical Club” also carries out enthusiastic activity against the law. And here we again meet Arman Boshyan, Hayk Ayvazyan and Lia Avetisyan. All the “analyses” referring to Armenia are published in the Russian language as if they were intended for Russians, rather than Armenians.
In one of the videos of the “Yerevan Geopolitical Club”, Head of Russian state “Rossotrudnichestvo” organization and Russian Ambassador in Armenia Ivan Volinkin’s assistant Mark Kalinin also participates in the discussion, and we can see Head of the newly-founded HASAK political party Arman Ghukasyan sitting next to him.
HASAK Political Party
Head of “For Social Justice” (HASAK) political party Arman Ghukasyan and its Deputy Head Tsovinar Kostanyan are famous in the Internet for their pro-Russian positions and actively publish photos with the Russian ambassador, as well as famous Russian politicians. They practically do not deny being sponsored by the Russian Embassy.
Arman Ghukasyan and members of his political party have also joined the propaganda against the domestic violence law. It is worth reminding that Ghukasyan had made a statement according to which a number of non-governmental organizations and journalists had allegedly been trying to make a “colour” revolution in Armenia during the police base takeover days. The aforementioned interview by Ghukasyan was published in the Russian sputnikarmenia website in the Russian language (there was no Armenian version of the interview in the website). Ghukasyan even made presentations about his ideas related to the “colour revolution” in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Ghukasyan had also promised to publish the “list of American agents” until the end of August. A few days later, a video was published in which a number of both pro-government and opposition politicians were accused of being US “agents”. The video also contained the scans of a number of US diplomats. And there is strong evidence that these were obtained through Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSS). Moreover, the video was not published in Armenia. Rather, it was published by a pro-Russian blogger in Donetsk, a considerably circumstance complicated that the identification of the source of leakage of the passport scans.
“Luys” Information and Analytical Center
“Luys” Information and Analytical Center also has a page on Facebook. Here we can see the same ridiculous publications related to US military servicemen producing biological weapons in Armenian medical laboratories, condemnations of the law on domestic violence, etc.
Ironically enough, here we meet the same people, namely, Hayk Ayvazyan and Arman Boshyan. In this group, we mainly come across publications in Russian and videos of the Russian first channel. And even the rare Armenian videos have Russian translation below (conversely, Russian materials are not always translated into Armenian).
Note that “Luys” Information and Analytical Center has applied for a grant to the Russian “Gorchakov Fund”, and the Head of the Board of Trustees of the Fund is Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov personally. The fund was established on February 2, 2010 by the decree of then-president Dmitri Medvedev and has direct funding from the Russian state budget.
“For Restoration of Sovereignty”
Hayk Ayvazyan also leads the “For Restoration of Sovereignty” Initiative (and operates the website), which actively promotes the initiatives of the EAEU and Kremlin. This resource is distinguished not only by its struggle against the domestic violence law but also anti-Western misinformation. The publications of this team, which are mostly in Russian, present the West as Armenia‟s military enemy and Russia as its main ally.
This group presents the misinformation regarding creation of biological weapons in Armenia by the US as a “threat to Armenia’s sovereignty”. Blogger Tigran Kocharyan (“Pigh”) and Others For a long while, famous blogger Tigran Kocharyan has been known to the wider public for his pro-Russian and more often anti-Western publications. He was also actively advocating against the draft law on Prevention of Domestic Violence.
Kocharyan stands out with his extreme intolerance towards the LGBT community. He is also the head of the Russian “Что? Где? Когда?” (What? Where? When?) club, which also operates on Russian grants. Specifically, the grant comes from Russkiy Mir Foundation created in 2007 by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree. Kocharyan is also a member of the Gorchakov Foundation club.
Another pro-Russian blogger, Kocharyan’s close friend Arman Abovyan, is also busy with public mood manipulations on the internet. The latter stands out by making entries exclusively in Russian language and publications in stop-g7.com website.
Arman Abovyan also runs a program on Radio Van, where he’s engaged in promoting his ideas. Due to Abovyan’s Russian-language program titled “Грани правды”, (“The Boundaries of Truth”) Radio Van has been listed as a partner of the Russkiy Mir Foundation. And though there is no evidence of grants received for this program, another host of the program Yegor Glumov is member of “Griboedov” Club led by Dmitri Kiselyov.
It is noteworthy that Kocharyan and Abovyan have more than 15 thousand followers on Facebook.
Iravunk newspaper is an Armenian mass media (in fact, yellow press), which is distinguished by its extreme intolerance towards different disadvantaged groups in society. The newspaper often publishes offensive materials with the photographs of a number of political and public figures.
The newspaper is owned by Republican Party deputy Hayk Babukhanyan. On the occasion of Iravunk’s 25th anniversary, Serzh Sargsyan issued a state award to newspaper’s editor-in-chief Hovhannes Galajyan and director Gegham Grigoryan.
Also note that at a time Iravunk was the only newspaper delivered to Armenian detention centers. It’s possible that even today it remains the only one. Iravunk serves as a platform for HASAK (For Social Justice) party and other Russian propagandists. This newspaper was among those spreading misinformation related to creation of biological weapons in the US-funded laboratories in Armenia.
The Armenian branch of Russian Sputnik radio station is also actively engaged in propaganda against the domestic violence law. As a rule, to reach their objective, they take interviews from various clergymen, as well as from Hayk Ayvazyan and Arman Boshyan. “Sputnik Armenia” always has its doors open for those fighting against the domestic violence law and carrying out anti-Western propaganda. Within the short period of December 19 to 21, “Sputnik Armenia” published several materials against the law on domestic violence.
Moreover, there is reasonable ground to believe that the RA Government intended to discuss the Draft Law on “Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence” during the December 22 session. When Sputnik Armenia was informed about it (Russian FSS’s possible help here cannot be ruled out), they carried out preventive propaganda.
Note that Russian “Sputnik” radio station belongs to “Russia Today” state information agency headed by Kremlin’s principal propagandist Dmitri Kiselyov. “Sputnik Armenia” was also engaged in active dissemination of false publications related to creation US biological weapons in Armenia.
Thus, we can confidently claim that the groups spreading misinformation about the RA Bill on “Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence” and presenting it as a bill “imposed by Europe and America against morality” are mainly pro-Russian groups or those directly controlled by Russia. In this way or other, the most active players are related to the Russian Embassy in Yerevan, Russian state “Rossotrudnichestvo” Fund, “Russkiy Mir” Fund, “Gorchakov” Fund of Russia’s MFA. Moreover, these groups are actively involved in anti-European and pro- Russian propaganda. Some of these people are also engaged in actively spreading misinformation targeted at the West.
We cannot rule out the probability that spreading of misinformation in the public field related to the RA Bill on “Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence” is mainly aimed at enhancing anti-Western sentiment in Armenia.