TV host Vladimir Solovyov whose program is now blocked in Armenia

Russian TV Programs Banned in Armenia

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By Artak Khulian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — The Armenian government has blocked the broadcasts to Armenia of political talk shows aired by one of Russia’s two main state TV channels following their pro-Kremlin host Vladimir Solovyov’s repeated criticism of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s policies.

A government agency, the Television and Radio Broadcasting Network, said the daily programs have systematically violated a 2020 Russian-Armenian agreement that allowed the Russia-1 channel to retain its slot in Armenia’s national digital package accessible to viewers across the country. It cited provisions of the agreement banning “offensive content against peoples and national values” and “interference in domestic political life.”

The government earlier sent a protest note to Moscow over comments made by Solovyov and another Russian media figure, Margarita Simonyan, during a February 25 talk show. They said that Armenian leaders should be mindful of what they called disastrous consequences of Western intervention in other ex-Soviet states.

Solovyov continued to attack Yerevan’s increasingly pro-Western foreign policy after that complaint. He warned that Armenians risk losing their statehood because of it.

Minister of High-Technology Industry Mkhitar Hayrapetyan announced on March 18 that Armenian and Russian officials will meet in Moscow soon to discuss Armenian proposals regarding the content of retransmitted Russian programs. Hayrapetyan’s press office declined to clarify on Friday whether the talks took place and, if so, resulted in any agreements.

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Solovyov, who was known for his pro-Armenian views on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, did not immediately comment on the ban. But Simonyan was quick to condemn it and accuse Pashinyan of stifling free speech.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry already summoned the Russian ambassador in Yerevan last October to condemn Channel One, the other Russian broadcaster accessible in Armenia, for disparaging Pashinyan during an hour-long program.

The Armenian charge d’affaires in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry the following day. Ministry officials protested against what they called anti-Russian propaganda spread by Armenia’s government-controlled media.

 

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