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Armenia Blocks Two Russian TV Shows From Airing in Armenia Over Political Criticism

Armenia Blocks Two Russian TV Shows From Airing in Armenia Over Political Criticism

Armenia has blocked the broadcasting of two popular Russian television programs, "Evening with Vladimir Solovyov" and "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov," citing violations of a bilateral agreement on telecommunications cooperation between Armenia and Russia.

Deputy Minister of High-Tech Industry of Armenia, Avet Poghosyan, made the announcement, revealing that the Television and Radio Broadcasting Network of Armenia had taken action to halt the airing of these talk shows. Poghosyan said that the decision was made due to ongoing breaches of specific articles within the cooperation agreement.

The backstory to this development dates back to February 29 when Armenia lodged a protest note with Russia following harsh criticism of its government aired on Russian state television. Mkhitar Hayrapetian, Minister of High-Technology Industry, addressed the Armenian parliament, disclosing the protest and the subsequent actions taken.

The National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH) had alerted the ministry about fresh violations of the 2020 Russian-Armenian agreement, which prohibits Russian state TV channels from commenting on Armenian domestic politics or spreading hate speech. Minister Hayrapetian emphasized Armenia's intolerance towards programs that could undermine the dignity of its people and state.

In response to these developments, Hayrapetian reached out to Russia's minister of digital development and mass communication, proposing urgent consultations to address the situation. He highlighted the need to review and potentially amend the agreement governing the retransmission of Russian television in Armenia.

The recent criticism aired by Russian TV host Vladimir Solovyov and media figure Margarita Simonyan during Solovyov's talk show triggered Armenia's response. Solovyov suggested that Armenia would have faced fewer problems if Russia had fully occupied Georgia in 2008, a statement deemed provocative by Armenian authorities.

This is not the first instance of tension between Armenia and Russian media. Last October, the Armenian Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Yerevan to protest disparaging remarks made about Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on another Russian broadcaster, Channel One. In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenia's charge d'affaires in Moscow, condemning what it perceived as anti-Russian propaganda in Armenian media.

In recent years, Armenian Public Television has hosted guests highly critical of Moscow, reflecting the deteriorating relations between Armenia and Russia. The frequency of these critical appearances has increased, particularly on programs associated with Pashinian's supporters, amid escalating tensions.


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