From Democracy Report to Karabakh Peacekeepers: This Week In Fake News

By Hovhannes Nazaretyan

This is part of the weekly series by #CivilNetCheck – an initiative that will look at the week’s fake news and dubious claims – circulating in Armenia (and about Armenia).

Armenia did transition to an “electoral democracy” in 2021

At a cabinet meeting last week, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that according to the newly-released Democracy Report 2022, for the first time ever—Armenia is classified as an “electoral democracy” rather than an “electoral autocracy”. Several outlets claimed, by citing an obscure political commentator’s Facebook post, that Pashinyan had lied and that Armenia had supposedly made the transition earlier.

#CivilNetCheck revealed that the report, published by V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute, explicitly states that Armenia, along with Bolivia, made a democratic transition from electoral autocracy to electoral democracy in 2021 (p. 14). The original post, circulated by several outlets, had falsely claimed that Armenia’s transition had begun in 2011 based on misinterpretation of some excerpts of the report.

These passages simply cover decade-long trends in democratization. The first says “Armenia and Sri Lanka have moved from being electoral autocracies in 2011 to electoral democracies in 2021” and the other—“Only three out of the top ten democratizers since 2011 are among the top democratizers in the past three years – Armenia, Dominican Republic, and Seychelles.”

Russian peacekeepers not leaving Karabakh, say Artsakh authorities

Last week Azerbaijani outlets claimed that a part of the Russian peacekeeping force in Karabakh has been redeployed to Ukraine. As proof, they pointed to an unverified video posted on Telegram showing a convoy of Russian vehicles and equipment allegedly leaving Karabakh through the Lachin Corridor. This was refuted by the Security Council of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). “The Russian peacekeeping force stationed in Artsakh continues to carry out its mission in accordance with the provisions of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020,” the council said in a statement.

On March 13, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also claimed that part of the Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed in Karabakh is being transferred to Ukraine. The Ukrainian military further claimed that 800 Russian troops from the 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, Armenia were transferred to Russia “for further transfer to the combat zone.” These claims have not been substantiated.

Ukraine’s humanitarian corridors

Last week a number of Armenian outlets published a quote by Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, where she is saying that the Russian proposal of humanitarian corridors is unacceptable for Ukraine. #CivilNetCheck found that the outlets had omitted a part of her statement, which clarified Ukraine’s position. Vereshchuk had noted that all humanitarian corridors proposed by Russia lead to Russia, in some cases through Belarus. But Ukraine’s position is that humanitarian corridors for evacuation of civilian populations should lead to other parts of Ukraine.

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