Russian state propaganda radio banned from broadcasting in Armenia

The Armenian Television and Radio Commission has suspended the license of Tospa company, which broadcasts propaganda programs of the Russian radio station Sputnik Armenia.

The regulator found violations of the law “On Audiovisual Media” in the broadcasts of two programs: Friday with Tigran Keosayan and Abovyan Time. In the first one the author made statements “mocking and humiliating the honor and dignity” of Armenia and its people, as well as called for illegal actions, the commission specified. The second one “broadcast opinions and statements spreading panic, not corresponding to reality and based on unreliable and unverified sources”.

Tospa’s license was suspended for 30 days, and the company was fined 500 thousand drams (111 thousand rubles).

The editorial board of Sputnik Armenia reported that Keosayan voiced a number of harsh assessments of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, accused him of betrayal, and also wondered whether the politician thinks that after everything he will “stay alive”. The commission considered these words a call to violence.

Tospa’s lawyer Simon Farmanyan disagreed with the regulator’s decision, noting that Keosayan’s remarks contained “an assessment of a person’s personality, but it is not a call, but a statement”.

Keosayan himself said that “paying attention to what is said in the media is the destiny of small, poor in spirit, cowardly politicians”. “Their act, the regulator, confirms all the justice of what I said in this program”, he added.

The Russian Embassy in Armenia expressed regret over the commission’s decision to suspend the radio station’s broadcasting. According to the diplomats, it “will affect the Armenian listener’s unconditional right to receive information from the source of his choice”. “This step cannot help but look like a concession to those who are increasingly loudly advocating the breakup of traditional, mutually beneficial and mutually respectful allied relations between Russia and Armenia”, the embassy stressed.

Earlier Nikol Pashinyan said that Russian TV channels broadcasting in Armenia interfere in the internal affairs of the country and destabilize the internal political situation. A similar view that pro-Kremlin media are waging a “hybrid war” against Armenia was expressed by Araik Artyunyan, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office. Lusine Badalyan, a deputy from the ruling Civic Compact faction, noted that in this regard, the authorities are discussing shutting down Russian TV channels in the country.

“Sputnik is a Russian news agency that produces content for foreign audiences in more than 30 languages. It is run by Kremlin propagandists Dmitrii Kiselev and Margarita Simonyan. The latter is the wife of Tigran Keosayan. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sputnik websites and radio stations were blocked in many Western countries for spreading disinformation and propaganda.

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