83% of Armenians agree that a ‘Strong Russia is needed to counterbalance the West.’ 71% of surveyed people admit that ‘Our national values are in conflict with Western values.’
Critics maintain that this clear pro-Russian attitude is a result of intense, and effective, Russian propaganda. Russian media, specifically TV channels, dominate the post-Soviet information space and voice the Kremlin’s views on a wide range of topics - including what the West, and its values, represent to the effect of the USSR’s dissolution.
In 2016, a platform bringing together non-profits and journalists monitored the media of six countries of the former Soviet bloc - and currently part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) - including Armenia, and Russia with the aim of unveiling pro-Russia messages and propaganda used to instil political ideologies in the media.
“The propaganda component of their programmes has a significant impact on the public opinion, particularly in the EaP countries,” states the report. “This circumstance is all the more important, as, given the lack of equivalent information exchange between EaP countries, largely their image of each other is formed indirectly, through Russian media.”
The Yerevan Press Club took part in the research monitoring the Russian-language newspaper Novoye Vremya and the online outlets Iravunk and Sputnik Armenia. Boris Navasardyan, the club’s chairman, maintains that “Armenia is definitely under the Russian propaganda influence and these three chosen media organizations are prone to echoing the stereotypes which are common in the Russian media.”
The research showed that the propaganda machine targets specific topics depending on the country - in Ukraine the 2014 Maidan demonstration from “the revolution of dignity” was manipulated into “the corruption of dignity” corruption after the revolution, while in Armenia the propaganda focus is the civil society as “the 5th echelon,” meaning the state’s internal enemy.
Even on issues not directly connected to Russia, public opinion seems to think along the same lines. According to the same PEW survey, 79 percent of of Armenians consider the collapse of the Soviet Union a bad thing and only 15 percent consider it good.
(source: Pew Research Center)