By Ruzanna Khachatrian
One of independent Armenia’s oldest daily newspapers controlled by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has been turned into a weekly publication, officials in the influential nationalist party said on Wednesday.
A statement by Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body said the change of the “Yerkir” (Country) daily’s status reflects the party’s new “tactics on the propaganda front” and is aimed at promoting development of “a free and responsible press” in Armenia.
But a Dashnaktsutyun spokesman made it clear that this should not be construed as an acknowledgement of a growing unpopularity of partisan newspapers. “The partisan press is the freest in Armenia,” Gegham Manukian told RFE/RL, arguing that many independent publications are secretly funded by wealthy individuals with narrower agendas.
Still, Manukian admitted that papers carrying explicit party propaganda no longer attract many readers in Armenia. “We have reached a point where you can’t win over people with propaganda,” he said.
The Dashnaktsutyun statement said the radical overhaul also aims to put “Yerkir” on “a new qualitative level,” a veiled admission of the fact that it has been among the worst selling Armenian newspapers for the past several years.
Founded in 1990, “Yerkir” was the most popular Armenian daily until its forcible closure by the authorities in December 1994 after then President Levon Ter-Petrosian outlawed Dashnaktsutyun’s activities. The paper resumed publication in 1998 following the party’s legalization by the new president, Robert Kocharian. It never managed to regain its popularity.
The first issue of the “Yerkir” weekly is due to appear on January 25. The revamped publication will be run by a three-member editorial board comprising Manukian and two other Dashnaktsutyun members.