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December 2, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 9064

Russian Media Outlet Vz.ru: Turkish Internet Bots Incite Armenians Against Russia; The Information War Is Just Beginning

December 2, 2020
Russia, Turkey, South Caucasus | Special Dispatch No. 9064

According to the Russian media outlet Vz.ru, thousands of fake accounts, created for waging an information war against Russia's role in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, have been identified on the social networks. The bots' main purpose bots is to discredit Russia in Armenia and Armenians in Russia; “threads” from these bots lead to Azerbaijan, Turkey and Britain. According to Vz.ru, this is the first sign of a new political reality, in which the military-political alliance between Moscow and Yerevan will undergo a stress test.

Below are excerpts from the article:[1]


Source: Facebook.com

6,500 Fake Accounts Were Identified

"…Edgar Grigoryan, head of the 'DataLocator' project for monitoring, analyzing and processing information on the Internet, reported in an interview with RT that his team had managed to identify about 6,500 accounts on various social networks, in which fake Armenian [users] were spreading deception about the course of the conflict and driving wedges into relations between Armenia and Russia.

"In 31% of the cases the IP addresses led to Azerbaijan, in 21% of cases to Turkey, and in 19% of cases to the UK. Grigoryan believes that the activity was under centralized management .

"'From the first day [of the conflict], the idea that Armenia does not need Russia was introduced, that the Armenian army is inherently strong, that it is necessary to refuse Russia's help, and that Russia is an occupier. The main goal was to present Russia as a sort of tyrant,' said the expert.

"By now, the war is over, but the activity of the bots continues: they explain to real people that Armenia was 'deceived and betrayed' and that 'Russia orchestrated everything to expand its own influence in the Caucasus.'

"On the whole, the cocky sentiments in part of Armenian society, as well as the grievances against Russia within it, can hardly be attributed to bots alone. Real persons, such as comedian Sarik Andreasyan, have also made statements of this kind.

"At the same time, armies of bots engaged in propaganda and disinformation have become constant participants in the information wars, accompanying real ones. Since Baku made such excellent preparations for the offensive on Artsakh in terms of renting Turkish drones and hiring Turkish specialists, then it would be strange if Baku did not make provisions for hostilities in the Internet and did not target them on the Russian-Armenian military alliance, or rather - on the mutual understanding between peoples.

"At the same time, Russian users are being used without their knowledge, provoking a negative reaction towards Armenians. And Armenians themselves are taught to think about the unreliability of Russia - the culprit behind their current troubles.

Armenia Became Russia's 'Hostage'

"Regardless of what would happen to the army of identified bots… the information war around Armenia is just beginning.

"After the Russian peacekeepers were brought into the Karabakh conflict zone, Moscow's of influence on Yerevan has increased significantly. Fate has made Armenia our 'hostage': its dependence on the Russian army in this case is voluntary, but also forced.

"From a security point of view, to have a hostage is even more secure than just having an ally. But the rapidity and the quality of changes [in the region] became a challenge for Russia's competitors in the area - both for Turkey, which counted on a different outcome of the war, and for the Western countries, especially the United States and France.

"Vladimir Putin has already called on Washington and Paris not to hold grudges, but they still are going to sulk, since a lot of funds were invested in the slow drift of Armenia towards the West.

"There are a huge number of Western NGOs in Armenia - much more than Russian ones. Not all of them are agents of political influence, the situation is largely explained by the status of Armenians as a transatlantic nation, that is, through NGOs, the Armenian diaspora participates in the life of the homeland. But it is difficult to find a harmless explanation for the fact that the American legation in Yerevan is one of the largest in the world – two thousand employees for a country of three million. In the Russian one, by comparison, there are less than a hundred employees.

"The results of these peoples' activities are much more modest than, for example, in Georgia. Although Nikol Pashinyan came to power as the result of another 'color revolution,' as prime minister he revised his anti-Russian attitudes - geography cannot be changed, and it is a harsh mistress: Armenia is surrounded by enemies and can count only on the help of Russia.

"Now this dependence has become even stronger, but the political crisis in Armenia and the general disappointment in Armenian society open a wide window of opportunities for Western agents of influence.

International Players Hope To Increase Their Influence In Armenia And Push Russia Out Of There

"Before the implementation of the Karabakh agreement, Russia was interested in keeping Pashinyan at the head of Armenia's vertical power – the Kremlin still doesn't trust him, but all other options are much worse. Logically, after [the peace agreement] the prime minister should leave - like the 'Moor who has done his work' and turned to be politically bankrupt. But there is no idea of who can replace him.

"The Russian authorities have a long and fruitful history of relations with the Republican Party of Armenia, one of the oldest in the country. However, after the resignation of its leader [former PM] Serzh Sargsyan from all government posts, under pressure from the street, Pashinyan, who took power, practically destroyed this structure. In the new elections, the previously dominant force in Armenian politics was unable even to surmount the electoral threshold and was left without representation in parliament.

"Now two-thirds of the National Assembly is dominated by Pashinyan's people - the 'My Step Alliance', and almost all of them are quasi 'wooden soldiers,' devoid of political will and individuality. The opposition is represented by two parties – Edmon Marukyan's 'Enlightened Armenia' and Gagik Tsarukyan's 'Prosperous Armenia.'

"Marukyan is a former associate of Pashinyan, who broke with him after the 'love revolution.' He and his people are rigidly oriented towards Washington and Brussels, and their platform includes such topics as Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO and joining NATO.

"'Prosperous Armenia' stands for an Alliance with Russia, but the problem is that ideology does not play any role in its case. This is not even a party, but an asset of Tsarukyan, who is considered to be the richest man in the country. The picture will not be complete if we do not specify that the 63 year-old oligarch is a wrestling coach, and that he served a prison term during the Soviet era for robbery and gang rape.

"In other words, under certain circumstances, the power in Armenia can go to such people, compared to whom, even the leader of the local Maidan, Pashinyan, is the best figure in Russia's eyes. The fact that he is responsible for the current crisis with unpredictable consequences, and for such an ugly party balance, is a different matter.

"In the coming months, the pack of Armenian politics will be reshuffled under a new historical reality, where most of Karabakh has been lost, and Turkey and Azerbaijan use the territory of Armenia, which was previously closed to them, for trading with each other. But now comes the time when international players will be investing in the redistribution of forces, hoping to increase their influence in Armenia and push Russia out of there.

"The army of bots described above is just one [example] in a series of many, through which [international players] will try to play on public opinion within both countries. Speculating on the Armenians' national distress has not yet proved its effectiveness, but one would not like to learn about it retroactively, when a Russophobic core has already formed within Armenian society."

 

[1] Vz.ru, November 18, 2020. The article was written by Stanislav Borzyakov.

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