Politics — The Driving Force Behind Blogs?

Last week, the main topics discussed in the Armenian blogosphere were the election manifesto of former president Levon Ter-Petrossian and the presidential election in neighboring Georgia. It’s no wonder that many are now wondering, including bloggers themselves, if politics isn’t the driving force behind blogs in Armenia.
“Before the last parliamentary election, the Armenian blogosphere gained serious strength and politics became the driving force behind blogs,” wrote local analyst Samvel Martirosyan on his new Armenian-language blog [ARM]. The blogger is already widely known for his Russian language blog, Kornelij Glas [RUS].

On the one hand, the upcoming elections had the same effect on the Armenian network. On the other, the development of blogs introduced a fresh (for Armenia), but not pleasant “novelty.”

For the past few weeks, a number of anonymous blogs have been launched which are directed towards throwing mud at various presidential candidates. Bloggers that had traditionally taken a more moderate approach, also became “infected” with unrestrained politics. As a result, those taking their first steps in the Armenian blogosphere felt as if they had instead materialized in a psychiatric hospital.
New blogger, Gazan2008, describes the situation [RUS].

For a few days I have been trying to find sensible people in LJ. Even those individuals that I have made friends with are lacking sensibility and balanced arguments. As I managed to see, in Armenian LJs, throwing mud over those who disagree with you has become very popular, as well as demonstrating that “I am against everybody – see how cool I am!!!

Another new blogger, Azat2008, categorizes the Armenian blogosphere [RUS] in the following way:

1. Apolitical female diaries… Run by complete fools thinking only about losing weight, their complexes and surrounding males. Other female owners of such diaries consider themselves above such vain things and thinking only about their “world outlook and related emotions” and belching them up in LJ.
2. Similar males. Designers, programmers, photographers or just flooders, or those that have gone completely nuts and have the same emotions as females…
3. Harshly politicized. Zombied supporters of LTP, their opponents, students, journalists, lawyers, patriots and everybody that is not indifferent to the fate of the country and the region…
4. Informational. There are not so many informational blogs, and recently all of them have become too politicized.

Probably, both established and new bloggers are being fair in describing the situation. Armenian blogs are extremely politicized these days. However, that politicization is not an artificial phenomenon, but a reflection of our daily reality “offline.” Indeed, it has almost become a pattern for blogs to actively respond to significant political events, which are also headline news in the traditional local media, such as the recent presidential election in neighboring Georgia, the publication of Levon Ter-Petrossian’s electoral platform, and the following press conference.
The elections in Georgia were actively followed by Oneworld Multimedia and Mark Grigoryan [RUS]. The first monitored the reaction and feedback of the English-language Georgian blogosphere to the elections, as well as the response of international observers and some foreign media.
The blog came to a sad conclusion:

Actually, the international community, especially the U.S. and Europe, should be quite vocal in condemning some of the dirty tricks Saakashvili’s team resorted to.
[…]
However, as Christine Quirk concludes, “with a strategic pipeline located on Georgian soil, [that] is probably wishful thinking.”

Mark Grigoryan also posted a comprehensive digest of coverage of the Georgian elections by the international media [RUS], but was more interested in the Georgian opposition [RUS] and the characteristics it featured typical of opposition groups elsewhere in the former Soviet space, including Armenia.

The opposition in post-Soviet countries doesn’t know how to lose.
Sometimes it seems to me that it is kind of included in the rules of the game – never to acknowledge the defeat, to go “to the end,” as the oppositionists say, to go on with the struggle, to convene people to rallies and meetings of protest.
In practice, such a behavior leads to a more marginalization of the opposition.

In reality, the interest in Armenia towards the Georgian election was conditioned by one main question that occupies everybody here these days. Basically, how will the coming presidential election be conducted in Armenia? No sooner had the Georgian election passed when former president Levon Ter-Petrossian published his electoral program and the discussions it provoked were then followed at the end of the week by a press conference.
It was no surprise to discover that Armenian bloggers such as Nazarian mainly focused on that. Others, such as JLiving Notes offered some interesting analysis [RUS]:

The first thing that is striking is the fact that the platforms cover a rather wide range of topics that sometimes have nothing to do with our presidential institute.
[…]
The most important thing is that ensuring the constitutional order and, consequently, the civil rights, legitimacy, sovereignty, etc (which, in general, is one of the main functions of a president) is hardly ever mentioned, and even if it is, it has the form of slogans, such as providing equality in front of the law or ensuring/reinforcing independence of the judicial power.
The most fascinating thing is that none of my acquaintances has been appealing to the candidates’ programs while arguing about them. That is, everybody has his /her own motives of choosing a certain candidate. More often people abide by their personal sympathy based either on stereotypes or on their own understanding of the role of a certain politician in the history of the country. Even if people read election programs, they abide not by what the presidential candidates offer. Simply speaking, the people are again attracted by a populist falsification.

At the time of elections, perhaps only humor can save an extremely politicized blog community. Ending with the same blog that we started this post with, Kornelij Glas offers his own sarcastic view of the pre-election field in Armenia [RUS].

LTP wrote a school composition a school composition,
SS goes for the elections with a marvelously creative slogan that could attract Abramovich to his headquarters: Go ahead, Armenia!
Geghamyan’s slogan is stunningly extraordinary. The leader of the party National Unity goes for the elections with the slogan For the sake of National Unity. Johnson meets Johnson.

This post was originally published at Echannel and crossposted at the GlobalVoicesOnline.org.

5 thoughts on “Politics — The Driving Force Behind Blogs?

  1. Reply
    Hrag - 17.01.2008

    The comments that most perplexed me where those by Azat2008, who doesn’t seem to understand that blogs are an intensely emotional form and that emotions are the juice that keeps the blogosphere afloat. Perhaps the Russian-language blogs aren’t as equality-minded as English-language or other Armenian blogs.
    I also agree that Oneworld Multimedia did an extensive job covering the elections and offering perspectives that were welcome.

  2. Reply
    Observer - 17.01.2008

    You know – there are times, when I decide to give up reading Russian language armenian blogs altogether. They are exceedingly hostile towards each other, highly ghettoised, etc.

  3. Reply
    Ara Arabyan - 18.01.2008

    Dear Observer,
    During last days I also mentioned that your blog was extremely politicized too, and noticed that you assume unconcealed negative attitude toward one presidential contender (for example you immediately introduced your view on his manifesto, but where are the others’ programms discussion?!)… very strange…

  4. Reply
    Observer - 18.01.2008

    Actually – I’m preparing a review of Serge Sargsyan’s program at the moment, and getting ready to review Vahan Hovhannisyan’s one. Arman Melikyan has just published his, so I haven’t had time to read it. As to the rest of the candidates, they haven’t put forward their programs at the time of my writing this comment.
    I accept, that my blog has become very much politicized, but I think – the duty of any Armenian citizen, who cares about their country at the moment is to take a very active political stance.
    As I’ve said in many occasions – I don’t like Levon Ter-Petrossian, nor do I like Robert Kocharyan or Sezh Sargsyan or Vahan Hovhannisyan. However, I have decided to vote for the Dashanktsutyun party this time round, because this is the only political force in the country, which operates at least remotely like a political party. That however, doesn’t mean, that I will be non-objective when covering Dashnak campaign or everybody else. I’m just being honest as to where my real sympathies lie. However, if you have followed my blog long enough, you will know, that I am more or less balanced, when covering anything or anyone, and where I’m not balanced and objective, I am very much willing to accept healthy criticism.
    Coming back to you question: where are the others’ programs discussion, I have to remind you again, that I’m only human, and blogging is only a hobby, and as soon as I have time, I’ll get back to discussing everybody else’s programs.
    At this moment however, I’m preparing for a trip to Turkey with a group of Armenian journalists, and all I care about at this point is: the sad anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder and the Armenian-Turkish relations.

  5. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 22.01.2008

    BTW: Your post is now available in Spanish:

    La semana pasada, los temas más discutidos en la blogósfera armenia fueron el manifiesto del ex presidente Levon Ter-Petrossian y las elecciones presidenciales en la vecina Georgia. No es de extrañar que ahora muchos se extrañen, incluso los mismos bloggers, de si la política no es la fuerza motriz detrás de los blogs en Armenia.
    “Antes de la última elección parlamentaria, la blogósfera armenia adquirió gran fuerza y la política se convirtió en la fuerza motriz detrás de los blogs,” escribió el analista local Samvel Martirosyan en su nuevo blog en armenio. El blogger es ya ampliamente conocido por su blog en ruso, Kornelij Glas.
    […]

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