Russia Today, Sputnik head accuses Armenian gov’t of being anti-Russian
Margarita Simonyan, head of the Russia Today TV channel, which many call the mouthpiece of Russian propaganda, accused the Armenian authorities of anti-Russian sentiment on July 18. She reminded them of the “Janissary knives” used against them by the Ottoman Empire, and demanded they show gratitude to Russia.
In Armenia, this post caused a heated discussion, and to a large extent, people reacted with outrage and indignation.
On her Telegram channel, she said that she was responding to numerous requests that she “determine her position” on the events happening on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
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Simonyan did not mention a single name.
Presumably, residents of Armenia turned to her with such a request because Margarita Simonyan is an ethnic Armenian.
Simonyan, however, has never lived in Armenia. She was born in the Russian city of Krasnodar, grew up in Sochi, and studied in the United States. Then she moved to Moscow, where she made a career on a Russian state television station.
Simonyan is regularly at the center of various scandals.
Recently, the leader of the Russian opposition, Alexei Navalny, published an investigative report titled “Parasites,” in which he spoke about the large-scale embezzlement of budgetary funds that Margarita Simonyan and her relatives are engaged in, using, among other things, their leadership position on the Russia Today channel.
We will first address the accusations and arguments of Margarita Simonyan, then the reaction in Armenian society.
Head of Russia Today: “After everything you’ve done, Russia has every moral right to spit on you and grind you into the ground.”
“I appeal to the Armenian authorities. It is the authorities, and not the people, of which I am a part.
I am appealing to you only because your internet troops have been bombarding my social media pages with (boorish and aggressive) demands to “express my position.”
You asked, I will tell you.
Look at yourself from the outside. See what you are doing. How you behave. What kind of Armenians are you? […]
In response to the many years of kindness and protection you received from Russia, you refused to recognize Crimea. Because this is a matter of Armenian internal affairs.
Purely out of political revenge, you imprisoned Robert Kocharian [ex-President of Armenia], a permanent ally of Russia. Imprisoned him specially, defiantly, spitting directly in the face of your ‘Russian friends.’ Because this is a matter of Armenian internal affairs.
You have flooded your country with anti-Russian NGOs that teach the youth how to overthrow power in Russia. You have become a springboard for anti-Russian forces in the Caucasus. Because this is a matter of Armenian internal affairs.
You kicked out Russian Armenian businessmen. You do not want anything to do with anything connected with Russia. Because this is a matter of Armenian internal affairs.
Round the clock, your media and social networks spit on Russia, Putin, and everyone who supports Putin, especially Russian Armenians (for example, me). You have divided the unfortunate, already disappearing Armenian people into enemies—the Russian Armenians, and the “real” ones who support your momentary power. Because this is a matter of Armenian internal affairs.
And now, when a war is breaking out on the border, when the very existence of your regime is in jeopardy, when Armenians worldwide are already seeing the living ghosts of the Janissaries with crooked knives that used to slice into your ancestors, you remember that Russia must save you again.
Isn’t this just a matter of Armenian internal affairs?
After all the evil and choking contempt that you have shown towards Russia in recent years, your troops and you yourself consider yourself entitled enough to wait for help from Russia?
In fact, after all that you have done, Russia has every moral right to spit on you and grind you into the ground.
But that’s not what will happen, I’m sure. Russia will come to your aid this time as well.
Because that’s how Russia is. Generous and noble, my beloved homeland.
And you are just a handful of screaming politicians who betrayed the interests of the great Armenian people for a moment of power and petty personal revenge.”
Reactions from the Armenian public
The discussion continues to rage on social media. The head of Russia Today later added to her post that many “influential people in Armenia” are ready to stand by her every word. However, social media is seething with more fiercely critical comments.
Two characteristic quotes:
Laura Baghdasaryan, Director of the Region Research Center:
“Question 1. Should we consider the brash attacks and threats against Armenia and its current authorities voiced by the editor-in-chief of the RT TV channel and […] the Sputnik news agency, Margarita Simonyan, as the official opinion of the above Russian media sources?
Question 2. Should we put a stop to the activities of Sputnik-Armenia within the territory of Armenia, the editor of which believes that Armenia and its authorities should be ground into oblivion?”
Armen Darbinyan, rector of the Armenian-Russian (Slavic) University:
“In your appeal to the Armenian authorities, you express your open contempt for them. I want to note: regardless of whether it is good our bad, ir is our government, elected by the people of Armenia, and the people of Armenia demand a respectful attitude towards their government. […] By despising the authorities, you also despise […] the people with which you mistakenly identify.”