The main source of disinformation was the Russian Eurasia Daily website, but later various Armenian media outlets (Politik.am, Golos Armenii and even Haykakan Zhamanak) continued to spread fake information.
This Russian-language media outlet has published a rather extensive article dedicated to the activities of Open Society Foundations-Armenia. In particular, the author of the article has targeted organizations receiving grants from the foundation, making obviously negative and false remarks about them. The article attempts to form a false impression among the readers that Nikol Pashinyan has become head of the Armenian government with the support of several organizations that are beneficiaries of the foundation.
The article states that human rights protection, freedom of the press, development of investigative journalism, observation missions, development of civil society institutes, activation of cultural life, etc. are among the issues targeted by the organization. And despite all this, the author does not hesitate to make false statements when describing the organization. Particularly:
1. Fake։ What the Foundation and its office are doing in Armenia does not contribute to the realization of the principles proclaimed by the organization.
In reality։ Only in the past three years the Foundation beneficiaries have included the Musical Ensemble of the Armenian Association of the Blind, Armenian Psycho-Oncology Association, 14 schools for visually-impaired children, YSU Center for Applied Psychology, Republican Research and Medical Library, Yerevan Medical University, Spitak Care House, Armenian Center for Ethnological Research “Hazarashen”, the Armenian Association of Pediatricians and etc…
2. Fake։ Larisa Minasyan, Head of the Armenian Office of the Foundation, personally decides on individuals and organizations who receive grants from the Foundation.
In reality։ Decisions on grants awarded by the Foundation are not made by one person, but by the board of directors.
3. Fake։ Referring to the Fact Investigation Platform (Fip.am) established by the Union of Informed Citizens NGO, the author writes: “The review of the activity of the organization makes it clear that it has been engaged in disseminating disinformation for many years, producing and distributing manipulative publications and videos.”
In reality։ When referring to the “Fact Investigation Platform”, there is no reference to prove the claim. Moreover, Fip.am has been and remains impartial, irrespective of the political situation and the current authorities.
4. Fake։ The Union of Informed Citizens NGO does not address the scandalous mistakes of the current authorities. Moreover, targeting critics of the current government, it has positioned itself as the “advocate” of the government.
In reality։ There are numerous articles criticizing the new authorities both on the Uicarmenia.org and the Fip.am websites, and the organization does not face any restrictions when writing critical articles about the current authorities. Dozens of articles criticizing the current government have been published in the last few months only. The last article that protects the activity of the current authorities in any way was published in December.
5. Fake։ The organization also conducted an observation mission during the elections held on December 9, 2018, but did not register any violations.
In reality։ This claim is obviously false. There have been reports on voting irregularities. Moreover, Daniel Ioannisyan, Coordinator of Union of Informed Citizens NGO, who spoke on behalf of the “Independent Observer” observation mission, spoke about the recorded violations.
6. Fake։ In January 2018, just three months before the change of power, the organization received about $ 81,000 from the Soros Foundation to prepare 50 journalists and 75 activists to participate in civic movements.
In reality։ The grant was actually received from the European Union, and the training of journalists and civil society representatives was conducted after the revolution. Moreover, during the trainings the participants were provided skills to effectively supervise the activities of the authorities.
7. Fake։ The Fact Investigation Platform of the Union of Informed Citizens NGO should serve for the identification of facts and disclosure of fraud, but the organization has begun to actively engage in propaganda against Russia and the former authorities and in support of the current authorities.
In reality։ The Fact Investigation Platform is an independent media outlet fighting against fake news and disinformation, and its publications are aimed at disclosing false statements and violations by both former and current authorities.
8. Fake։ The whole staff of the Union of Informed Citizens NGO, including Daniel Ioannisyan, the person who serves as a link with the Soros Foundation, have been active participants in the process of change of power. In this way, the author is trying to show that George Soros supported the revolution.
In reality։ According to the surveys conducted by the International Republican Institute, about one million people took an active part in the revolution in Armenia.
9. Fake։ The members of the organization used their means for spreading hatred against the authorities and for making propaganda in favor of Nikol Pashinyan after Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation.
In reality։ It is an obvious manipulative formulation as during the days of the revolution the members of the organization were not the only ones who expressed their dissatisfaction with the authorities, and linking it with the organization is not serious, to put it mildly.
10. Fake։ The Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor issued a statement on police actions during July 2016, describing their anti-terrorist activities as totally disproportionate.
In reality։ In fact, the report refers to the actions of the police and peaceful demonstrators but it is noteworthy that according to the author, the citizens who were gathered in Khorenatsi Street and Sari Tagh were terrorists and the police actions against them were an anti-terrorist operation.
11. Fake։ Artur Sakunts insisted that changes in Armenia are possible only through armed rebellion.
In reality։ Artur Sakunts has never made such a statement.
12. Fake։ After the change of power, Sakunts has never made any statement regarding the violations of the rights of persons in detention.
13. Fake։ Lena Nazaryan, who was Programs Coordinator at Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center, is now Deputy Speaker of the RA National Assembly.
In reality։ In fact, this is a manipulative statement as the article creates an impression that immediately before Lena Nazaryan became Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, she was programs coordinator at Transparency International. In fact, Lena Nazaryan left that position in 2015 and was member of the Board of the Civil Contract Party for about four years before becoming parliament speaker.
14. Fake։ Another employee of Transparency International, Vanuhi Matevosyan, works at the government’s “Public Relations and Information Center” SNCO.
In reality։ Vanuhi Matevosyan has not been working in the SNCO for 5 months already, and worked there for 3 months only.
At the end of the article, the author tried to summarize the activities of the organizations that have received grants from the foundation, and came to the conclusion that they have been busy with the negative PR of the former authorities, the destabilization of the situation in the country, as well as the propaganda in favor of Nikol Pashinyan.
In fact, the campaign against human rights organizations has been a priority for some circles and there have always been attempts to discredit the role of these organizations. However, the fact remains that the aforementioned organizations and individuals have had an indispensable role in the formation of the Armenian civil society and are still on the front line of fight against fraud and lawlessness, regardless of who is in power.
A number of Armenian media outlets often publish manipulative articles on the Open Society Foundations – Armenia, linking it to the political events that have taken place in a number of countries.
Some of these media outlets have published EADaily’s articles almost in the same way (for example, Politik.am did not even spare money to spread it on Facebook). Besides, Golos Armenii and Haykakan Zhamanak daily also addressed Soros and his activity in separate articles.
In the article titled “Why has Soros’s interest in Armenia awakened?” the author of Haykakan Zhamanak Daily makes a number of controversial and groundless claims. Referring to the Ukrainian Euromaidan, and the publications of the DCLeaks hacker group linked to Russian state agencies, the author insists that Soros and his foundations had a considerable involvement in organizing those demonstrations. Meanwhile, even Russian “Sputnik”, which also makes reference to the hacker group’s information, does not attribute to Soros a direct participation in Maidan.