Opposition Meeting Announcement Video on YouTube

I found this announcement today on the YouTube – a user called romamerda1 who seems to have joined the YouTube especially for the purpose of uploading this video has entitled it:”26 October 07 – the meeting for the future of Armenia” and has concluded the video description with the words: “FOR THE LIBERTY OF ARMENIA !!!”
For those who can’t see the video it says: “26 October, Friday, 17:00, Azatutyan Hraparak. First president Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s meeting. Speeches also from Stepan Demirchyan and Aram Z. Sargsyan.”
I can state, that this is the first time ever that a video announcement about opposition rally is going on YouTube – and that means that opposition is really taking the Internet seriously.
This potentially means, that the happy days of freedom of speech for bloggers in Armenia are drawing to a close, because it is easy to conclude, that the RA State Security Services, who have so far only limited themselves by paying some people to stay online and participate in various forums, blogs, video sharing sites, will now be forced to take more serious action – and we can only guess what that action implies.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Actually, it’s not the first time an opposition advertisement has gone up on YouTube as I uploaded the same advert at least a day before. However, my account wasn’t specifically set up for that purpose and it was so that I could include the video in my post on concerns regarding the TV media in Armenia. Anyway, I’m surprised you missed it on the following post:
    As for concerns about blogging and the authorities, I have no concerns at all at present. Indeed, like the “alternative” or “independent” online media (call it what you will), the number of people inside Armenia who will get to see any of it via the Internet is insignificant and doesn’t pose a threat, especially as Serzh Sarkisyan is still the number one favorite to win.
    Besides, there is no reason so far to suppose that the election will be worse than either the 2003 presidential and parliamentary election, or indeed, the 2007 parliamentary election which were markedly better since any elections in the past 9 years held here, although perhaps that’s not saying much.
    Theoretically, with international pressure still on, it should be better, but let’s see. However, I’m already encouraged by the type of discussion that can now be heard from both government and opposition circles. For once, people are thinking and analyzing, in relative terms that is, and that’s to be welcomed.

  2. BTW: The main reason I posted the video on YouTube was because the original on the A1 Plus was slow to load or didn’t at all, and anyway launched Windows Media Player which I hate. As A1 Plus often post some interesting videos I wish they’d consider using YouTube from now on and embedding the video into their web pages instead of just having an easy to miss text link.

  3. A1plus have developed a flash player for that purpose – but avoid using it for some reason. I guess they just don’t like the implementation they have. Anyways – I have implicit permission from them to post any of their videos on my YouTube channel and make it available for the use of bloggers.
    As to the media situation – I have every reason to be concerned. I have been hearing and seeing developments which indicate, that there will be an unprecedented amount of pressure on electronic media (including internet media) this year. This must be done – especially now, in the pre-election period, so that during the official campaign and the election times, the need for fraud is diminished or eliminated.
    In other words – a task has been formulated to brainwash the nation using the electronic media to such a degree, that Serzh Sargsyan can be sure to win without having to exercise any ballot-staffing and election fraud. This is how the Prime Minister has decided to ensure, that we have the most democratic elections yet in February 2008.

  4. You’re going to hate this, but the situation you describe would actually be progress. Sorry to sound so cynical, but that’s how I view the situation in Armenia now and that is the kind of progress that we will have. Politicians doing what politicians do –i.e. brainwashing and lying — but in the Armenian context with the media situation in the period leading up to the pre-election campaign being controlled. However, during the pre-election campaign itself the situation will probably be according to the law as it was in the parliamentary election albeit with high costs for political advertising on private TV stations.
    Anyway, while I agree with that situation, I don’t have any reason to believe that the government will be bothered by the Internet. What you’re talking about is the broadcast media and not the print or online media. Anyway, more will be clear after Friday’s rally. From looking at the situation as it stands now, I’m kind of convinced by the argument that it is only Levon Ter Petrosian who could possibly contest the election against Serzh Sarkisian.
    Maybe Artur Baghdasarian would have stood a chance, but as we know, there is a sizable section of civil society which opposes him and sees him as part of the system. Ironically, many of those same situation don’t judge the architect of the system — Levon Ter Petrosian — in the same way. Anyway, I think it’s too early to judge anything until we see how much support opposition candidates have, and specifically I mean LTP.

  5. BTW: Some of those concerns regarding the broadcast media were detailed in the post I linked to in the first comment and for which I uploaded the opposition ad.
    The post also details concerns with the pro-opposition media, and Uzogh puts the counter-argument to concerns raised about the pro-governmental TV stations.

  6. Is it technically very easy to track down a blogger? Are there any privacy laws about it? Let’s say if the government wants your info, can your ISP say NO.

  7. Well, most bloggers have their sites hosted outside of Armenia so there shouldn’t be a problem there. Also, I don’t think that bloggers in Armenia are doing anything to warrant specific interest from the government. More often than not, information disseminated on the Internet is what the papers have been saying anyway. That’s not to say that it couldn’t change in the future although I suspect that might be more to do with libel and stuff like that more than anything else.
    For those bloggers who do intend to go a little further and are worried, however, obviously, posting on a site outside of Armenia is going to help and then, they can always use a pseudonym if necessary although it has to be said, pretty much everyone knows who is doing what and so on regardless of whether they use their real name. It is also possible, however, to use anonymous proxies and so on.
    There’s a guide on anonymous blogging at:
    Anonymous Blogging with WordPress and Tor
    For now, however, I don’t think it’s a problem because blogs don’t represent a problem. I also don’t think that Armenia has gotten to a stage where there will be a clampdown on the internet if only because few people access it, and those that do aren’t interested in politics. If that were to change, maybe, but for now, I feel no concern at all and am quite happy to post under my full name.

  8. […] station already alleges attempts at censorship. The Armenian Observer therefore wonders whether the opposition in Armenia is increasingly looking to the Internet as a medium for getting its message out. Share […]

  9. Thank you Onnik. Very useful guide. I agree with you that as of today, there is no major risk associated with blogging, but you don’t know what can happen down the road. Also, I don’t know if you are a citizen of Armenia or not, but I feel that local bloggers might be more at risk for what they are saying than foreign citizens. I just don’t want them to be after my family for whatever outrages idea I decide to say!

  10. Well, Nanul, you’re right about being a foreign citizen affording me extra rights, it’s true. I point this out to people here whenever they ask me if I’ve taken or will take citizenship. For the reason you give, I won’t — including dual citizenship. On the other hand, foreigners do risk being kicked out of the country although that’s hard in my case as my son is an Armenian citizen.
    However, during the 2003 presidential election when I was one of the few photojournalists here to cover the opposition rallies I was “coincidentally” called in to OVIR to have my visa “checked.” Just a random spot-check they said, but it involved two people at OVIR, one of whom spent two hours quizzing me on my opinion on the political situation in Armenia. Hmmm…
    Anyway, you’re right, it could all change, but I for sure don’t think they’ll come down hard because the opposition press is reporting far more controversial issues and stuff online. Then again, it also depends on how this election campaign will be. If there is a serious rival with serious support in society, something might happen although I personally believe it’s the media they’re more concerned about, and primarily RFE/RL and TV stations.
    On the other hand, this new law on wire tapping without a court order and allegations of pressure being applied on regional TV in Gyumri is one of concern.
    As for your family and that of anyone else for that matter, if anything were to happen it’s imperative to let us all know so we can act. However, I don’t think that’s going to happen simply because the international community will come down hard on Armenia if there’s no regression and persecution during the election.
    Like it or not, the authorities ironically use the law and legal means to come down hard on anyone it doesn’t want around. Sefilian and Arzoumanian were examples of that, for example, or the use of adminstrative arrest in 2003 is another. A1 Plus remaining off the airwaves and attempts to disrupt RFE/RL transmissions yet another. Still, as I always say, it isn’t wise to be complacent and not to prepare for the worst.
    I think and I hope, however, that it will not come to that. So far, attempts at shutting up people seem to be as I describe. Search for irregularities with visas, or check their businesses, or if they did their military service and so on. Basically, if you’re clean they can’t touch you. Or, as you say, a foreigner with a legitimate right to be in the country.
    Anyway, I plan to be as neutral as I can be during the election campaign and I think this is another issue. While bloggers should and can detail their preferences, I hope they will also attempt to remain objective when it’s needed i.e I don’t want to see opposition rallies of a few hundred people inflated into a few thousand or allegations made without any evidence to back them up.
    I also think that bloggers need to choose their words wisely, especially in a country where there’s so much rumor and gossip. Basically, if something is an allegation made by someone else openly, quote them and don’t say it yourself or be careful in identifying what is hearsay and what is fact. Any attempt at prosecution of journalists and bloggers is generally based on accusations of libel.
    Really, all you bloggers out there, choose your words carefully and wisely.

  11. But just in case… 😉
    Committee To Protect Bloggers

  12. Thank you Onnik for the advice. I fully agree with you.

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