President Serzh Sarkisian’s press secretary has been appointed as director of news reporting at the state-run Armenian Public Television and Radio (HHRH), it was officially confirmed at the weekend.
Sarkisian’s office said Samvel Farmanian has been relieved of his current duties because of the appointment reported by some Armenian media earlier last week. It said Farmanian will now be in charge of “information-analytical programs” broadcast by the HHRH.
The position is not known to have existed at the state TV and radio until now. Neither the HHRH, nor the presidential administration gave any reasons for the decision to create it.
A historian by training, Farmanian, 32, worked as an aide to former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian and led a small pro-government party before joining the presidential staff in 2008. He has no prior experience of journalism or media management.
In a separate decree reported on Saturday, Sarkisian appointed Armen Arzumanian, until now the executive director of the Public Television, as his new spokesman. Arzumanian had managed Armenia’s largest and most accessible broadcaster since 2001.
Critics have long accused Armenia’s current and former presidents of controlling the political news coverage by state TV and virtually all private broadcasters across the country. Both the authorities and broadcasters deny this.