Armenian Government Blocks Russian TV Broadcast

29 May 2024


The Armenian government has suspended the broadcast of Russia’s leading state TV channel in Armenia, a move bound to add to mounting tensions between the two countries.

Minister of High-Technology Industry Mkhitar Hayrapetian told the Armenpress news agency late on Tuesday that the retransmission of Channel One has been “temporarily stopped” because of its outstanding debt to an Armenian government agency that controls digital broadcast frequencies. He did not disclose the amount of the debt, saying only that it has been accumulated over the last two and a half months.

Although Hayrapetian said the ban applies to the national digital package accessible to viewers across Armenia, the Channel One broadcasts were also blocked by the country’s cable TV networks belonging to private telecom operators. The latter did not explain on Wednesday their decisions to join the ban.

Channel One and the Russian government did not immediately react to the development. It comes two months after Yerevan banned the retransmission of a daily political talk show aired by another Russian channel, Russia-1, because of its pro-Kremlin host Vladimir Solovyov’s repeated criticism of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Armenia’s government-controlled Television and Radio Broadcasting Network accused Solovyov and some guests on his daily programs of violating a 2020 Russian-Armenian agreement that allowed Russia-1, Channel One and another Russian channel, Kultura, to continue to broadcast their programs to the South Caucasus country. Yerevan alleged a similar violation last October after Channel One aired an hour-long program disparaging Pashinian.

On May 7, Pashinian threatened to ban the Russian broadcasters if they do not respect his country’s “state order” and national interests. Hayrapetian said earlier that the 2020 agreement should be amended accordingly.

The supposedly temporary ban on the Channel One broadcasts was announced just days after Russia recalled its ambassador in Yerevan for consultations amid a continuing deterioration of relations between the two longtime allies. Moscow gave no reason for the dramatic move.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov charged in March that Pashinian’s administration is “leading things to the collapse of Russian-Armenian relations” at the behest of the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pashinian discussed the unprecedented rift when they met on May 8 right after a Eurasian Economic Union summit in Moscow.



Source: Azatutyun

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