Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian lambasted TV stations critical of him on Thursday, saying that they belong to corrupt individuals and wage an “information war” against the Armenian government.
Pashinian said the government should expose the “real owners” of the private channels. He did not name any of them.
“I would say that the level of democracy in Armenia is so high that even corrupt persons have TV companies in Armenia nowadays,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “The logos of at least two TV channels can be replaced with the words ‘Corruption’ or ‘Corruption Group.’”
Pashinian claimed that he is “not unhappy with this situation” because these broadcasters help the authorities combat corruption by frequently interviewing former officials facing corruption charges and exposing their other “tentacles.”
Nevertheless, he went on, the government needs to enact legislation that will require them to reveal their “real owners” and thus increase broader “transparency” in the Armenian broadcast media. Justice Minister Rustam
Badasian told Pashinian in that regard that his ministry is already working on such a legal “mechanism.” Badasian did not elaborate.
At least two Armenian TV channels are owned by individuals thought to be linked to former Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian or their relatives in one way or another. They regularly air strong criticism of the current authorities in their news programs and talk shows.
The official owner of one of the pro-Kocharian Fifth Channel, Armen Tavadian, was arrested late last month on charges of seeking false testimony in favor of the jailed ex-president. Tavadian rejected the charges as politically motivated. Some Kocharian loyalists and Fifth Channel executives claim that Tavadian’s arrest is aimed at silencing the opposition media outlet.