On August 19, the third president of Armenia, the leader of the Republican Party Serzh Sargsyan, gave the longest press conference in the history of his public activity. During the press conference he announced that he was open to the media during his rule.
In particular, when asked by a journalist why he did not participate in international discussions and interviews, as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan currently does, Serzh Sargsyan said that he did not see the need for that.
He argued that although the media are trying to show that he had only 2 press conferences, it is not true.
“I met regularly, not once, with the heads of 30-35 media outlets a year, that is, not individual meetings, but group meetings. I gave interviews to representatives of different media outlets – 2, 3, 6… So every leader has his own way of working,” he said.
In reality, however, Serzh Sargsyan stood out with relatively active contacts with the media mostly in the first period of his presidency.
According to the official website of the President of the Republic of Armenia (President.am), where all Serzh Sargsyan’s interviews and press conferences are posted, on March 23, 2008, before assuming the post of President, when he was still the Prime Minister, Sargsyan answered the questions addressed to him via the Internet, including questions about the March 1 events.
After becoming president, Serzh Sargsyan had one open meeting with journalists on the occasion of his 100 days in office. Then, in 2009, the third president held a press conference on the occasion of one year in office, which was attended by several dozen media outlets from Yerevan, the regions and abroad. However, a year later, Sargsyan became inaccessible to a large group of media outlets.
There were several press conferences with selected journalists, most of whom were from PanArmenian Media Group, affiliated with Serzh Sargsyan’s son-in-law Mikayel Minasyan (ArmNews, Armenia TV, and ATV). And at joint press conferences with the leader of this or that country, it was practically impossible to ask a question to Serzh Sargsyan.
After being elected for the second term, on March 18, 2013, Serzh Sargsyan met with the media at the Presidential Palace. The meeting was attended by 12 journalists. This time the meeting lasted for about two hours and was attended by journalists from Armenia TV, Public TV, H2 TV, “Yerkir Media”, “Shant”, “Kentron”, “ArmNews”, “Aravot” newspaper, ” Hayots Ashkharh” newspaper, “Golos Armenii” newspaper”, Iravunk “newspaper, the editor-in-chief of which was the RPA faction deputy Hayk Babukhanyan for many years. Hrayr Tamrazyan, a correspondent for RFE / RL, was also present.
On December 3, 2015, again only 12 journalists, representing “ATV”, “Ararat” (which is again affiliated with the Republican Party of Armenia), “H3”, “AR”, “Yerkir Media”, “Kentron”, “Shant”, Armenia TV, took part in the 2-hour meeting of Armenian TV channels with Sargsyan. The meeting was not attended by media outlets criticizing the authorities, including “Civilnet” and “Azatutyun”.
After the four-day war in April 2016, when the public had many questions, Serzh Sargsyan did not give any open press conference, but on his return from a meeting with the President of Azerbaijan in Vienna, he again gave an interview to “selected” 6 TV channels on the plane, including Armenia and ArmNews, “Yerkir Media”, “Shant”, “Kentron”, H1″ TVs.
It is noteworthy that during the ten years of his presidency, Sargsyan gave more individual interviews to foreign media than to Armenian ones. Among Armenian media outlets, ArmNews TV in 2014, and Armenia TV twice in 2017, both part of the PanArmenian Media Group, received such an opportunity. It is interesting that journalist Artak Aleksanyan conducted two of those interviews as a representative of ArmNews and Armenia TVs.
Serzh Sargsyan has repeatedly given interviews to Russian media. Among them were “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” periodical, “RIA Novosti” news agency, “Russia 24” TV channel. He also gave an interview to the general director of “Russia Today” news agency Dmitry Kiselyov for “Sputnik Armenia” and to the journalist of Russia-1 TV channel.
Thus, it is a manipulation by Serzh Sargsyan to announce that he was open to the media during his presidency. He has always had limited contacts with the press, with the exception of the first year of his presidency to some extent, and later Sargsyan was open only to selected journalists and media outlets.