YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—One day after Russia’s ambassador in Yerevan was handed a rare protest note, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Armenian charge d’affaires on Wednesday to condemn what it called anti-Russian propaganda spread by Armenia’s government-controlled media.
The spokeswoman for the ministry, Maria Zakharova, revealed the move during a news briefing in Moscow on Thursday. She said ministry officials protested to the Armenian diplomat against the “unbridled anti-Russian campaign” conducted by Armenian Public Television and other media outlets controlled by the government.
“His attention was drawn to the most odious reports directed at the Russian leadership, Russian diplomats and peacekeepers who risk and sacrifice their lives, including for the security of the people of Armenia,” added Zakharova.
In the last few years, Armenian Public Television has regularly interviewed and invited politicians and commentators critical of Moscow to its political talk shows. Their appearances in prime-time programs of the TV channel run by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s loyalists have become even more frequent lately amid a further deterioration of Russian-Armenian relations.
For its part, Russia’s leading state broadcaster, Channel One, derided and lambasted Pashinyan during an hour-long program on Monday. It featured pro-Kremlin panelists who denounced Pashinyan’s track record and portrayed him as a Western puppet tasked with ending Armenia’s close relationship with Russia.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador on Tuesday to protest against “offensive and absolutely unacceptable statements” made during the program.
The unprecedented show, titled “Nikol Pashinyan: a harbinger of trouble,” highlighted the mounting tensions between Moscow and Yerevan. It fueled more calls for the Armenian government to ban the retransmission of Channel One and another state-controlled Russian channel.
High-Technology Minister Robert Khachatryan again did not rule out such a ban when he spoke in the Armenian parliament on Thursday. He said the Russian broadcasters have repeatedly violated a 2020 Russian-Armenian agreement that allowed them to retain their slots in the national digital package accessible to TV viewers across Armenia.
“I can’t tell you at this point what decisions and steps have been taken, but discussions are underway,” Khachatryan said, answering a question from a pro-government lawmaker.