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Nikol Pashinyan’s Chief of Staff accuses Russian propagandist media of waging hybrid war against Armenia

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Arayik Harutyunyan, the Chief of Staff of the Armenian Prime Minister, accused Russian propagandist media of waging a “hybrid war” against his country during the program Svoya Pravda (“Our own truth”), broadcast on Russia’s NTV on September 24.

NTV is owned by Gazprom Media, a subsidiary of state-owned gas giant Gazprom.

Harutyunyan was responding to journalist Georg Khachaturyan's suggestion that protesters who were trying to breach a government building in Yerevan ran into American paratroopers who had come to Armenia for training.

Harutyunyan dismissed this claim as “complete disinformation” and expressed disappointment that some of the “most prominent propagandists” on Russian channels are Armenians, including Margarita Simonyan, Tigran Keosayan, Aram Gabrelyanov, Semyon Baghdasarov, Roman Babayan, Sergey Kurginyan, and Andranik Migranyan.

A recent report by the independent publication Meduza revealed that Russia’s Presidential Administration sent guidelines to state-run and Kremlin-aligned media on how to cover Azerbaijan’s renewed offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to the guidelines, Russian media outlets were advised to lay the responsibility for Azerbaijan's attack on Western countries and Armenia. They were also supposed to highlight “the Armenian leadership recognizing Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Karabakh” by citing Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan regarding Azerbaijan's “territorial integrity.” In reality, Pashinyan said that such recognition was possible on the condition that international security guarantees would be provided to the region’s Armenian population.

Nagorno-Karabakh fell under the control of ethnic Armenian forces supported by the Armenian military during separatist conflicts that ended in 1994. Armenian forces also took control of substantial territory surrounding the region, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

In 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed control over the adjacent territory following a six-week war with Armenia. A ceasefire, brokered by Russia, ended the conflict, and 2,000 Russian peacekeepers were deployed to oversee the situation.

Last Tuesday, Azerbaijan renewed its military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, presenting it as “local anti-terrorist activities” aimed at eliminating purported Armenian military presence in the region. A day later, a ceasefire was declared between Azerbaijan and Armenian authorities representing the breakaway Republic of Artsakh — reportedly with the mediation of the Russian peacekeeping command. However, locals and journalists subsequently reported multiple ceasefire violations.

According to the ceasefire agreement, the government of the Republic of Artsakh made sizeable concessions, including the disarmament of the region’s defense forces (the Artsakh Defense Army), withdrawal of Armenia’s military contingent, and future negotiations on the republic's reintegration into Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan held a meeting with Artsakh delegates from Nagorno-Karabakh on September 21 in Yevlakh, with no final agreement reached. Another meeting has been scheduled for October. According to an Artsakh delegate, “specific details” are yet to be worked out.

According to Armenian authorities, at least 32 were killed, including seven civilians, and 200 were injured as a result of the hostilities. The Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Ombudsman's Office reported at least 200 people were killed and more than 400 wounded. Independent journalists have been unable to verify these figures.

Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, erupted in protest following the surrender, with over 80 people detained at the September 22 rally alone. Hundreds of protesters took to Republic Square in front of the Government House, the PM’s official residence, demanding Nikol Pashinyan's resignation and the defense of Nagorno-Karabakh. Levon Kocharyan, the son of Armenian ex-President Robert Kocharyan, was among the detainees.

In his address to the nation on Sunday, September 24, Pashinyan said that the chances of ethnic Armenians leaving the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh were increasing, and accused Russia of failing to guarantee Armenian security.

“If proper conditions are not created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to live in their homes and there are no effective protection mechanisms against ethnic cleansing, the likelihood is rising that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see exile from their homeland as the only way to save their lives and identity,” Pashinyan said in the address.
“Responsibility for such a development of events will fall entirely on Azerbaijan, which adopted a policy of ethnic cleansing, and on the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said, according to a government transcript.

Pashinyan added that Armenia had started preparing for a possible influx of refugees as soon as fighting erupted, and was ready to take in as many as 40,000 families. Armenian refugees have already begun leaving Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia, according to reports, and are arriving in Syunik, a region in southern Armenia that is connected to Nagorno-Karabakh through the Lachin Corridor.

Since Russia served as a guarantor for the previous peace agreement — the one that concluded the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War three years ago — many Armenians hold Moscow responsible for not safeguarding the region.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities consistently point fingers at Pashinyan, citing his mismanagement of the crisis, and argue that Armenia, bordered by Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, has limited regional allies.

Pashinyan, in turn, has expressed vague concerns about the risk of a coup against him and has accused Russian media of waging an information war against him.

“Some of our partners are increasingly making efforts to expose our security vulnerabilities, putting at risk not only our external, but also internal security and stability, while violating all norms of etiquette and correctness in diplomatic and interstate relations, including obligations assumed under treaties,” Pashinyan said in his Sunday address.

Pashinyan plans to meet Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on October 5 in the Spanish city of Granada, according to a statement by the Armenian Security Council. Azerbaijan has not yet confirmed that the meeting will take place.

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