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Russian Propaganda in Armenian Broadcast Media 

Committee for Protection of Freedom of Expression has released the analysis of its expert Hasmik Budaghyan on the contents of Russian “RTR-Planeta” TV channel aired nationwide in Armenia. The article concludes that the news and political-social programs are strikingly anti-European and anti-Western, exhibit aggressiveness, apply various devices and means of propaganda, specifically, hate speech, distortion of facts, prejudiced comments. 

According to author Hasmik Budaghyan, not only are the experts and public figures invited to programs making statements to influence the opinion of the audience, but also the reporting journalists. This conclusion is sustained by results of content monitoring. 

“For example, the October 3, 2019 signature program “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” is titled “The Western World is Glorifying Perversion, Demoralization, Misanthropy”. This statement of the expert invited to the talk-show and supported with similar statements throughout the program is aimed at demeaning and discrediting European values, is a prejudice and does not reflect values enshrined in efforts for establishing the European community and in important international documents, such as the European Convention for Protecting Human Rights and Freedoms.

It is important to note that talk-show host Vladimir Solovyov makes no effort to counteract the aggressiveness of the invited expert, and to establish at least a balance and neutrality, he instead adds more fuel by stating: “The Western model cannot ensure peace and human development.” 

The article cites other examples too, especially the use of the reputation of cultural and social figures. For example, the statements of Russia’s renowned film director, Nikita Mikhalkov, another anti-western propagandist, according to whom “Europe has betrayed Christianity, is led by childless people which means absence of an instinct to sustain, care, help, save and cure” (“Evening with Vladimir Solovyov”, Novmber 18, 2019)

These and numerous other manipulations aim to discredit European values to disorient the audience, instill flawed understanding of Europe and Europeans. 

Political expert Ruben Mehrabyan believes that “Russian media outlets, better called “propaganda troops” can influence the Armenian audience inasmuch as they be perceived as convincing, trustworthy, unbiased sources of information and not machines of state propaganda… Russian propaganda on non-Armenia related topics will influence the segment of the Armenian audience that has a difficulty of cross-checking the information and making parallels, is uncritical of the information received, and for example, in the case of the propaganda on Ukraine and Georgia, it can easily become a target or victim of the hybrid war waged by Russia.” 

The tools of manipulation applied by the Russian propaganda are not new, according to Mehrabyan. They include simple lies, partial truth, manipulation, distortion of causal relations, fear-mongering, instilment of distrust, proliferation of conspiracy theories. All of these are copied by the “concerned” segment of the Armenian media.

The analysis echoes the recent statements made by the Tigran Hakobyan, Executive Director of the TV and Radio Committee that Russian TVs and CNN Must Be Removed from the Public Multiplex Broadcasting Channel.