Pashinyan’s insistence on ‘undemocratic’ virtual press conferences
In two separate statements, more than five dozen media organizations in Armenia condemned Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s continued holding of online press conferences, calling the format “undemocratic.”
Friday evening, the Armenian time newspaper, which is majority owned by Pashinyan’s mother-in-law, citing “their sources” in the government, reported that Pashinyan was about to announce a press conference – with questions to the prime minister read by a presenter employed by the Armenian public broadcaster.
On Saturday, this information was confirmed by the Prime Minister’s staff. The press conference will be held on June 27 at 8 p.m.
Shortly after the Armenian time published its information about the press conference, a group of editors, mostly employed by pro-opposition or opposition-leaning media outlets, issued a statement declaring a boycott of the press conference and refusing to send questions.
“Previous experience has proven that such ‘online contacts’ take place in a prepared scenario; only questions from pro-government media, telegram channels and bloggers are made public at these events, which, apparently, are agreed in advance with the organizers of the event, and in the case of questions other media – they are either ignored, altered or distorted”, the statement bed.
At the time of publication, more than three dozen publishers have added their names to the joint statement declaring the boycott.
In a separate statement, a small number of nonpartisan mainstream media outlets, including Azatutyunthe Armenian service of RFE/RL, and Civil network condemned the format of the press conference and the recurring instances of submitted questions being edited or misrepresented.
“We consider this form of interaction with the media by the country’s leader to be discriminatory, ineffective and at odds with fundamental principles of democracy, transparency and accountability,” the official said. statement bed.
Hakob Karapetyan, editor-in-chief of the Armenian Fact-Checking Platform Fact-finding platform and one of the initiators of the statement, said OC Media one of the reasons the statement was launched was the “leakage” of information by the Armenian time and fears that questions sent to the prime minister risk being re-edited and twisted.
“So we in the office have decided not to send any questions at all and even to issue a statement expressing our attitude towards press conferences in this format.” Later, a group of media organizations seemed willing to join the statement.
“The Prime Minister considers the democratization of the country and the transparency of his government as one of the main achievements,” Karapetyan said. OC Media. “We wanted to send them a warning or a signal that such actions do not support the democratization of the country.”
Karapetyan also warned that with “such regressive measures”, Armenia was returning to the days when “the country’s leaders would not have press conferences for years” or only invite media representatives who were “dear” to them.
Pashinyan has been holding online press conferences since 2021, citing COVID-19 pandemics as the reason for the new format instead of pre-covid and pre-war more often and open communication with local media.
However, the media repeatedly complained that the questions they sent to the Prime Minister’s staff were either edited and distorted or not given to Pashinyan.
Ahead of the conference, several pro-Pashinyan politicians criticized the media that signed the two statements. Taron Chakhoyan, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, accused the opposition-friendly and opposition-friendly media of not being professional and serving the interest of those who “seek revanchism”.