YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — In a move denounced by Moscow on Thursday, December 21, Armenian authorities have suspended the radio broadcast of Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency in Armenia after it aired a program highly critical of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The Sputnik Armenia news service’s weekly program broadcast on November 17 was authored and presented by Tigran Keosayan, a Russian film director and TV commentator of Armenian descent. It featured disparaging comments about Pashinian and his government’s policies.
Keosayan and his wife Margarita Simonyan, who runs the Russian television network RT and several other Kremlin-funded media outlets, are vocal critics of the current Armenian government. Simonyan was banned from entering the South Caucasus country last year.
Armenia’s National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH) on Wednesday accused Keosayan of making “mocking and derogatory” statements about Armenia and its people in breach of Armenian law. It said foreign nationals also have no “moral right” to do that.
The commission announced that it has therefore banned an Armenian radio station from retransmitting any Sputnik Armenia programs for the next 30 days.
The Russian Embassy in Yerevan criticized the decision the following day, saying that it limited Armenians’ right to “receive information from a source of their choice.”