The undesirables: Simonyan and Gabrielyanov as personae non gratae in Armenia
Personae non gratae in Armenia
“I am not a supporter of restrictions. People like Margarita Simonyan and Aram Gabrielyanov should come to Armenia and see what antipathy they arouse in the majority of Armenian society with their notorious statements, ridiculous accusations and labeling,” Ashot Melikyan, head of the Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Speech, believes.
In his opinion, the vocabulary and behavior of Russian media managers of Armenian origin, recognized as “undesirable persons”, testifies to their “arrogance and inability to politely express their thoughts and opinions.”
The Prime Minister of Armenia recently stated that Russians declared personae non gratae “are obliged to respect Armenia, including the authorities elected by the people.” In response, Margarita Simonyan and Aram Gabrielyanov declared Nikol Pashinyan a “traitor” and “deceiver”, expressing their “disgust” with him.
A week ago, Aram Gabirelyanov, a Russian journalist and the founder of the News Media holding, was not allowed into Armenia. And in October 2022, Margarita Simonyan, Editor-in-Chief of the Rossiya Segodnya international news agency and Russia Today TV channel, and Konstantin Zatulin, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, were banned from entering Armenia.
Recently Dmitriy Peskov said that he had a negative attitude towards such decisions, and expressed the hope that in the foreseeable future, bilateral relations between Russia and Armenia “will be free from such events.”
Among those declared undesirable persons there are also “non-Russian Armenians”, representatives of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun party. The names of at least four of them are known. They are banned from entering the country due to the “attack on the motorcade led by the Prime Minister of the government delegation on June 1, 2021 at the Armenian Embassy in Paris.”
Pashinyan: “They must respect Armenia”
During a March 14 press conference, Pashinyan answered a question about why some Russian media personalities have been declared “undesirable persons” in Armenia. He said that Armenia is a sovereign state that has the right to use tools to prevent encroachments on its interests, and “the aforementioned persons are obliged to respect Armenia, including its authorities, elected by the people.”
“If they allowed themselves one percent of what they did with Armenia in relation to the countries where they live, they would not be able to enter their home without a visa,” Pashinyan said.
The prime minister recalled that decisions to recognize someone as persona non grata are made by the relevant state bodies in accordance with the country’s legislation.
Margarita Simonyan: “I never said anything about any corridor”
“I never said anything about any corridor, but I said and will speak personally of Pashinyan, that he is a degenerate and a traitor to the Armenian people, that he sold and betrayed all the Armenian interests that he could betray and sell, that he hates Russia and is deceiving Putin, ”Margarita Simonyan responded to Pashinyan’s statement.
Simonyan believes that it was for these words that she was banned from entering, but under the current government she was not going to come to Armenia. And she is embarrassed by the wording of the refusal – “for disrespect”, since it “still needs to be earned.”
“So correct your wording: Margarita Simonyan is denied entry to Armenia for disgust with the current government,” she wrote.
Gabrielyanov: “Effendi Nikol will have to answer”
On March 9, Russian journalist and publisher Aram Gabrielyanov posted on Facebook that he was not allowed to enter Armenia. He stated that he would sue the Armenian government and force them to allow him entry:
“In fact, Armenia is corroded by the rust of betrayal and groveling before Turkey. There is an attempt to destroy fraternal relations with Russia and the Russian people. No wonder even the security forces call him Tork [Turk] Nikol. […] I won’t let the homeless deprive me of my father’s homeland.”
After Pashinyan’s comment at a press conference in another post, he announced that his interests in court would be represented by “the office of a well-known lawyer in Armenia, Aram Vardevanyan.” This is a former deputy from the Hayastan opposition faction of the Armenian parliament, who also defended the interests of ex-president Robert Kocharyan in court.
Gabrielyanov writes that the court will consider not only the lawsuit in connection with the ban on entry to Armenia against the Armenian authorities, but also the second:
“The second lawsuit is against Pashinyan personally. If he does not prove that I demanded the creation of a Zangezur corridor in Armenia, then efendi [“sir” in Turkish] Nikol will have to answer for it.”
Gabrielyanov promises to prove in court that “Nikol was and remains a deceiver.” The journalist believes that “more than 80 percent of the population of Armenia show disrespect for the elected prime minister”:
“And what, the authorities will not let them into their homeland too? You can’t publicly swear at the authorities. I am glad that Nikol knows the practices of Turkish dervishes and can read the thoughts of Armenians!”
Ashot Melikyan says that Simonyan, Gabrielyan and others, declared undesirable persons, “are used by Russian propaganda as the main agents of counter-propaganda against Armenia.”
In his opinion, Simonyan has long ceased to be a journalist — she is a “Kremlin propagandist”, “speaker of the Putin regime” and is ready to hang any label on the Armenian authorities and the country itself in order to earn the favor of the Kremlin.
Melikyan holds that those declared “undesirable” use the same lexicon as the Armenian opposition:
“In some cases they begin to speak on behalf of the people, declaring Pashinyan a “traitor” to the people, etc., that is, these are the thoughts that we are already tired of hearing from the radical opposition, which is in fact the fifth column of the Kremlin in Armenia.”
In Melikyan’s view, these media managers are in fact Russian agents serving the interests of the 5th column operating in Armenia.
Melikyan believes that “words had to be answered with words, not with prohibitions.” He also believes that not only the authorities, but also the Armenian media should respond to such statements.
“Media that consider themselves of high quality, serving the public interests of the country, and not the narrow interests of individual political forces, should respond to such statements and put their authors in their place.”
In his opinion, it is necessary to ask Armenians their opinion about those declared undesirable, and to publish them. He believes that only pro-Kremlin oppositionists will speak positively about them;
“Of course, there will be harsh criticism, antipathy, if not hostility, even disgust towards people who pretend to protect the Armenians, but sling mud at Armenia and the Armenian people on Russian TV.”
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Personae non gratae in Armenia