Internet is being censored in Armenia

In the evening of March 2, the Internet Society of Armenia (ISOC) has ILLEGALLY stopped the maintenance of several domains, including A1+ – www.a1plus.am, Haykakan Zhamanak – www.azatutyun.am, E-channel – www.echannel.am. In the database of ISOC- https://www.amnic.net/whois/ , they are registered as “on hold.”

With that step, A1+ has been deprived not only of his site but also if its mail service.

The domains have been “frozen” without the decision of the ISOC board – either by the instruction on behalf of the presidential office, or the National Security Service.

In the decree of president Kocharyan, there was nothing about freezing the domains, closing web sites and the media.

We would like to provide some help to those, who still want to access the above mentioned websites. Firstly, Echannel.am and Azatutyun.am have their backup DNS records. You can access Echannel.am also at E-channel.am (e-channel with a -) and Azatutyun.am at armenialiberty.am. At the moment we are negotiating with the ISOC board to urge them to stop this illegal blocking of our domain names. However, there is a possibility, that the backup domain names (E-channel.am and armenialiberty.am) will also be blocked. For that case, I will be posting a list of IP names for the servers, where these and other blocked information websites are located, and you can access them by clicking the links in the list below (I’ll update the list as soon as colleagues let me know the relevant IP addresses):

  1. a1lus.am – 75.125.179.218:8080
  2. echannel.am – 76.163.218.144
  3. azatutyun.am – 193.111.134.85

Let me remind everybody, that A1plus YouTube channel and Asplus blog are still functional. There is also an Armenian Newspaper Electronic Archive, where you can find Archived publications from some of the blocked newspaper websites.

As for bloggers – I would strongly recommend, that all of you access your email addresses and blog accounts using one of the anonymous web browsing suggestions, and change your email and blog account passwords. Make sure they’re strong, contain figures and letters.

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76 thoughts on “Internet is being censored in Armenia

  1. I think under a state of emergency they can do anything. The declaration does not restrict what the government may do, but does restrict local media, NGOs and others. The state of emergency presumably can be applied here because of a very vague reference to “political propaganda” which is not limited solely to paper-based or broadcast media.

    Under a state of emergency one also supposes there is no need to go through the motions of convening regulatory boards and the such like. Faced with what the government considers to be an emergency situation it can do pretty much what it likes when it likes. That’s the nature of a state of emergency and Armenia is no different than any other country.

    However, it’s worth pointing out one thing. I can access A1 Plus and have done so many times today so I think the block was lifted before you made this post. I haven’t been able to access E-Channel, however. Nor RFE/RL’s site either although it’s worth pointing out that they have been violating the state of emergency restrictions. I don’t think E-Channel has been, however, but I could be wrong.

  2. That’s just how things are done in Armenia, doesn’t matter if it was in the presidential decree or not. The authorities will clench onto power by all means. They simply do not care about statehood or democracy. This country is run like a business and they are protecting their business interests.

  3. In the decree of president Kocharyan, there was nothing about freezing the domains, closing web sites and the media.

    I think there was.

    4) Publications of mass media concerning state and internal political issues can be implemented solely within the limits of the official information of state bodies.

    5) Ban on leaflets and implementation of political propaganda by other means without permission of corresponding state bodies.

    The issue for me is whether E-Channel is violating these restrictions. From what I gather they’re not. A1 Plus isn’t and is now again available in Armenia. RFE/RL has violated the restrictions and in actual fact, it’s English language web site was a pro-Ter-Petrossian mouthpiece dressed up in a very sophisticated way since Setpember 2007 when the former president returned to the political scene.

  4. Guys – I’ve updated the post above with important tips and links to the blocked sites. I’d also recommend – using google and finding your own anonymous browsing solutions, and if you do – please post links here.

  5. toom ambitious, a too mabitiouse move.
    Armenian State is in big trouble. they are trying to fight the Internet. I declair that they lost this fight. This not even a fight this is a joke.
    they can shoot bullets and kill people but they cant do this in Internet.
    they will close, atatck or hack one site and another will spring up. They will block IPs and URLs but new ones will open up. And many many of them.
    you cant fight Information in the information age. Even if they switch off the Internet connection to Armenia (this was done only in Turkmenista for a short period) the message will be passed through phone lines. they will switch the phone system, makeshift radio stations will pop up.
    They are finished.
    Ditord as there is a threat that your Internet might be switched off will you put regular postings updating us with teh status? if we dont hear from you we will know that armenia moved to stone age.

  6. Observer will also not be under state of emergency rules and will be out of the country for 16 days so no restrictions apply to him at all. Anyway, I have to say the A1 Plus and others took their freedom to publish disinformation to the limits and beyond.

    There’s freedom but there’s also the need for reliable information.

    And let’s face it. A1 Plus and others were part of attempts to push for revolution and civil disorder in Armenia. Like I said, my concern is about E-Channel and not Ter-Petrossian propaganda outlets such as A1 Plus and RFE/RL.

    As for shooting, nearly as many police and soldiers were victims of bullet wounds on Saturday night as protesters. Besides, both sides were gearing up for a fight and both are to blame. This was being prepared for. There is no good or bad here. Both sides are guilty. One was merely weaker than the other.

    What amazes me most is how Ter-Petrossian’s loyal supporters still don’t question the fact that he basically deceived them and put them in the firing line by assuring them that the army would not be used. He also said that KGB were 90 percent on his side. Well, now we know he lied and he did so knowing that if people believed him they would not fear for their lives.

    As I recall, A1 Plus and RFE/RL were responsible for pumping out that misinformation too. Anyway, yes, freedom of speech, but there is a responsibility to adhere to professional standards of journalism which largely do not exist here and after attempts to stage a coup d’etat, it’s now a state of emergency. Interestingly, while the state of emergency will be lifted in 20 days or less, attempts to push information out designed to bring people to the streets again will likely lead only to more protests and more deaths.

    There is the law and there is breaking the law with all of its undesirable consequences. Ultimately, it’s up to everyone to decide which path to take, but please, don’t start crying when there are consequences.

  7. BTW: To remind again, I have been unable to access A1 Plus all day and so it doesn’t look as though it’s blocked using this connection at least.

    Also, Observer, on what basis is blocking these sites illegal? Under the state of emergency regulations the government can act. It’s up to you whether you want them to block domains or do what they did recently in Georgia i.e. raid offices, smash equipment or arrest journalists.

    Actually, probably Levon’s people would prefer such a response as it would help them tremendously outside of Armenia. Interestingly, the government appears to be showing a surprising amount of restraint this time round.

  8. Correction:

    BTW: To remind again, I have been ABLE to access A1 Plus all day and so it doesn’t look as though it’s blocked using this connection at least.

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  10. AFP: France called today, Monday, for the “rapid lifting” of the state of emergency in Armenia, the “release of people who have been arrested” and the launch of political dialogue to end the violence that left eight people dead in Yerevan at the weekend.
    “We ask for a rapid lifting of the state of emergency and the release of the people who have been arrested,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani.

  11. I told this to a few people, but I am able to do Psiphon for anyone that wants to…

  12. There is a state of emergency and you have to live with it until it is lifted. It is not the end of the world and it is my opinion that all normal functions will be resumed once it is over.

    Whether this means limited communications and some forms of censorship, so be it. What can you do about it but either wait or keep attempting to break the law?

    BTW, It doesn’t seem like I can access A1+. I think the domain name servers are disconnected.

  13. It is no surprise that the Serj and the ruling thugs have extended their criminal actions into censorship, reaching even into the Net. The state of emergency has silenced ArmeniaNow.com and other essential sources of news online. And who can forget the smirking faces of the government-sponsored broadcasters on television on election day, the first steps in their information war? I would smile like they did too if I had received the generous “gifts”, said to be $20,000 for each talking head to sing Serj’s victory tune. The cancer of evil that has gripped Armenia must be removed, and it appears that Levon is the only person who can be the surgeon-general and eliminate the disease, just as he did when he declared Soviet rule to be finished. Armenians will never forget how they were ordered to go to Serj’s moronic speeches before the election, how even their children were taken out of school and marched to see Serj with his thugs and goons on stage. Now the mood in Armenia is sullen and sad, because of Robert’s destruction of freedom of the press and the emergency order. But people will not forget, and the world has gotten an important if brief glimpse of the rotten core in Armenia’s heart. Mafia rule will not last forever. Watch Serj and the other hungry dogs inside their mansions. They steal from you and our loved ones every day that they are in power. Those who want to ignore reality might do well to put up a million more Serj posters and then dance around Mount Aragat, just like the thug mayor of Vandazor suggested. Dance or just brey and baaa like sheep. That would make Serj and the ruling thugs feel safer again.

  14. I have started posting Radio Liberty articles from Armenia on my blog for readers from Armenia.

    I would suggest other bloggers do the same, especially if they are on a platform different than Blogger. Also, changing the password frequently should avert the KGB’s efforts to break in and delete the posts.

  15. So all those who are for ceneorship are the KGB and all those who are against it are the CIA, eh? Feels like the Cold War is back, realy…

  16. I cannot belive that Observer and Onnik can talk about A1plus so ignorantly.
    This is proof that they hate this leading news agency, because their e-channel is far behind of A1plus and no competition to it.

    Hey echannel.am guys, try to fight according to rules, but not according to false accusations against a1plus.

    One of you even told that you are not an Armenian Citizen, then what moral right you have to disgrace one of the few sources of fair and free information of Armenians, such as a1plus, or azatutyun.

  17. Hayk – what accusations? For your information I am the one who has set up the A1plus blog and A1plus YouTube Channel. A1plus are my very good friends. What have I ever said about A1plus – that you are referring to?

  18. Onnik – blocking sites is illegal, because the presidential decree speaks about not publishing anything after the moment of declaring State of Emergency. A1plus haven’t published anything after declaring SE – so blocking it is illegal.

    Also – the way blocking was carried out is – the AMNIC – Domain registrar for the AM domain, for no apparent reason has just put the domain names for the menioned websites on hold. This is just illegal and goes against the contract we have with them.

  19. Observer

    Onnik was discsussin A1plus with you, and I thought you also agree with him.

    It was ONNIK who put the following. PLease Read

    See the quote from ONNIK

    “”I have to say the A1 Plus and others took their freedom to publish disinformation to the limits and beyond.

    There’s freedom but there’s also the need for reliable information.

    And let’s face it. A1 Plus and others were part of attempts to push for revolution and civil disorder in Armenia. Like I said, my concern is about E-Channel and not Ter-Petrossian propaganda outlets such as A1 Plus and RFE/RL.”””

  20. i have a question
    If it is justified to ban,filter or block any websites during a state of emergency, cant supporters of LTP justify the banning of Dashnakzutiun during those years? i absolutely do not defend any of this and i think both of these actions just happen in countries unfortunately like ours.
    I think in any case, any situation, banning newspapers,websites should be justified,unless its a tool for spreading hatred like what neo nazi’s do.

  21. For those who are concerend for their safety but meanwhile want to write in their weblogs or open new ones, check here and here. reporters without borders has produced this handbook to help , with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation.

  22. The IWPR article has a number of inacuracies.

    For instance, isn’t the Chinese president “a major world leader” and shouldn’t his congrats letter be metioned?

    As if our tragedy is not enough, you give it a Holywood label – “Armenia’s bloody Saturday”. Sounds like you enjoy what you’re doing …

  23. Hayk

    Again, I know too well that losing hurts. This menace to Armenia called Levon Ter Petrosyan should be eliminated along with his whole clan. Armenia has FINALLY woken up and sees who Satan is. It’s finally the time to build a new Armenia free from Levon and the corruption and injustice he brought upon Armenia.

    NEWS
    Pashinian Hakob Hakobyan Myasnik Malxassian, Aram Sargsyan, Alik Arzumanian, the 2 Zurapyan’s the 2 Matevossyan are all arrested. My guess is they will get between 3-5 years of prison time.

    They have confiscated Bjni/Noy from Sukyassian, their profit will pay for the damage caused to Yerevan and indemnization to the dead and injured in the Security forces.

    The next most probable is the bank owned by Sukiassian’s brother, it will be nationalized. As a friendly advice I say take your monies out of that bank.

    In 20 days we will see a new Armenia

  24. Hayrenaser- Armenia was essentially free of Levon for the past 10 years. In 20 days we will see a new Armenia free of corruption and injustice just because you say he and his cohorts are gone for good? What is the government’s excuse for the past ten years then?? How did the out-of-power minority manage to continuously destroy the country over the past ten years that confiscating Noy will fix in a matter of weeks?
    Come on, this kind of irrational opinion is a pathetic attempt at propaganda which does make me wonder who you are and what your connections might be.

  25. Now that we are talking about internet censorship. Let’s test how democratic their website is. To the left there is a link saying ‘blog your opinion’ and i did so. Let’s see if they publish it or they only publish pro-Levon comments. Anyways this is my opinion and I blogged it as their request.

    Blogged text on Levonforpresident.com:

    Levon jan, tsavt tanem, ko skhalenri pajarov amboghj hayootioonna toojoom. Yev yete sharoonakes skhalner@ avel enk toojeloo. Bola hayerin irar ktsel@. His supporters please explain to him that we all know his intentions are good, he loves his country and wants to do the best for the country but he’s not able to. He is a good academic but not a good politician. In recent days all he’s achieved so far has been to divide us, cause public unrest. He even can not control his supporters, they block roads, set cars ablaze, throw cocktail-molotov. Please do the right thing and leave the political arena (once again).

  26. Armen, there is a difference between freedom of the internet for all and freedom of your own personal site. Levon’s site is his site and they can choose whose comments to post. What you said isn’t hateful, but by your reasoning anyone can write whatever they want on Levon’s page and they have to post it in the name of “freedom of speech”, no matter how vile.
    Problems with your reasoning in the post above:
    1. You don’t give the protesters credit for 11 days of peaceful protests.
    2. Everything that happened according to you is the fault of Levon supporters.
    3. You operate on the assumption that everyone who protested is a Levon supporter (many do not support him but did protest for freedom against what the authorities did. The fact that Levon led the protests did not equate to every protester agreeing with him.)
    4. You operate on the assumption that everyone who blocked roads, set cars on fire, threw molotovs, killed people, etc. were the protesters and that they were at fault. Some people are just hoodlums and they use times of chaos like this to cause mayhem and destruction. There is a good chance at least some of this (who knows how much) was done by them and not protesters to begin with.
    5. One also has to consider the percentage of those at work who were actually government provocateurs. It’s actually been admitted that the security agency had sent people to the Opera protests trying to encite people to revolution. When that failed they planted weapons at the scene which started this all off- and the “discovery” of those weapons is what has been reported 24 hours a day over and over on the government sponsored tv. With all these cases, do you really think that there was absolutely no people sent by the government causing mayhem that evening as well to have more to blame on the protesters? I am not saying all protesters are innocent of bad actions, but one must be objective when considering this very complicated situation and making it to be so black and white (aka all the protesters’ fault) is a huge diservice to reality.

  27. Paul, he started all this protests. Wouldn’t it be wiser for him to consider all possible outcomes? Or maybe he did and ignored the very high chance of tragic results?

    > Some people are just hoodlums and they use times of chaos
    > like this to cause mayhem and destruction

    Either he didn’t know this (which I doubt) or he was risking public safety and order for his political ambitions. And it isn’t just this one fact, the path he had chosen suggests this trait. That’s why I think he is not a capable and wise politician and is very dangerous to be in political arena. Armenia is the heart of Armenians now.

    And about the blog, I was just wondering if they’d publish it or not. It said “blog-grir ko kartzik@” (blog your opinion) so I did. And what’s wrong in telling you that I posted a comment and I was wondering if they’d publish it? As far as there were a lot of other comments with the same quality (but pro Levon) as mine I thought why not expressing my opinion. That section was for that purpose.

    Oh by the way, have another look at youtube recorded material there is this part that the speaker was talking about “hraparakayin dadaran” (square court!?). Inviting people to unrest. Do you approve of the way Levon guided his campaign? Do you agree with the speaker? Maybe you also should give credit to authorities for bearing these for more than a week.

    It’s really interesting to know if you think it would be correct to continue to ask people for demonstrating (as he intends to to). Or this is not a correct move and will damage us all in long (as well as short) run? If anyone who hadn’t been elected would ask people to pour onto streets (like Levon did), what would the result be? Maybe others are wiser and Levon should do the same.

  28. Oh by the way I forgot to mention this from the webiste :) :

    Ազատորեն գրեք ձեր կարծիքն ու զգացումները

  29. Armen, most likely Serzh would have won easily in the case of a run-off. Just think, he wouldn’t have had to cheat at all and still would have won. Instead he had to cheat, gave Levon the fuel to make these protests happen, and from there look what happened. I do agree Levon is a devisive figure who stirred up some of this trouble, but as many of the protesters said this goes far beyond him. He was the protest leader but so many of them were protesting for freedom and against the authorities’ vote rigging whether or not they even like Levon. You cannot call protesters a bunch of Levon zombies because there’s much more to this movement than that.
    I am of course wary of future protests for obvious reasons, however I don’t think the fact the authorities used the army on their own people and are now clamping down on the people with a Soviet-style information blackout means they get to win and everyone should just move on out of fear. According to that notion the bully should always win and whomever has the bigger guns gets to subdue people into fear and silence. What does that mean for the nation- if it needs to just shut up and move on because its government murdered some of them? If anything such a move will only trigger more anger and outrage, and to pretend like it is best for the country to just bottle that up and let it simmer or that it’ll magically go away because Sukiasyan has had his assets frozen is wishful thinking. The huge cracks in society have been revealed and they aren’t going away thanks to an information blackout or the need for everyone to stay quiet out of fear.

  30. What does it mean for the nation when a relatively democratic election is fought against by a few thousand who didn’t get their way?

  31. What does “relatively democratic elections” mean? Armenia has never had elections where opposition party would win. Now that is a really incredible streak of governmental wins, isnt’ it? There are cracks in the society, there are divisions in the society, but one thing unifies most Armenians and that is blanket hatred for the current government. Mr. Kocharyan and Mr. Sargsyan should ask themselves how bad have they ruled the country that people went on the streets? Why did they use the administrative resources to “win” three presidential elections? Levon is not the answer, he is not capable of rationale reasoning in addition to the fact he violated the constitution in 1996. The unified society should give birth to new political powers, which will denounce previous governments and lead Armenian people to a peaceful and political victory.

  32. Paul, you are right I agree if there was a run-up Serj would have won anyways. Levon was second with a large difference. But seeing how Levon handled his campaign based on only bashing the opposition, blaming them for everything, calling them “others. not of us” calling for a re-election he would have done the same after the run-up. Most of the times you can’t be mainly sure what someone *would have* done. But in this case we’ve already seen how he reacted to not being elected and finishing a distant second. So it’s a safe assumption that he’d do the same :) (with much more severe negative outcomes).

  33. ‘Azeri armed forces attempted to seize Armenian positions’

    te tgherk jamanakna khelkners havakenk glkhneris oo mianank. Astvatz ani et Levon-n e shoot pasa-poosan havaki gna gortzi hetevits. Oorish karevor baner kan kan et himmari ambitsianer@.

  34. A1Plus should go .org, .net or .com and we will all help to promote the new address. As there is great demand for this resource (and others mentioned in the post) I’m sure that new address adoption by public will take only few days. I don’t think that A1Plus should wait for ISOC chaging its mind, they are under 100% control of the government.

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    Livre Proxy – Hide your IP address from prying eyes and get past Web filters at school or work with CGI proxy or PHP proxy.

    http://www.online-proxy.net/ – Online-Proxy.net is a free web based anonymous proxy service, which allows anyone to surf the web privately and securely.

  37. Youtube.com blocked in Armenia at least from ADC and Web………………………

  38. Sisters and Brothers,

    To me, Armenians around the world have their word to say, they contribution to input… Our compatriots in our country do not have any more the opportunity, the elementary democratic right to express their anger having been scorned while voting and violated while complaining. We should not leave them by themselves at these difficult moments.

    We should sensitize the public opinion in the countries we live. Our nation is suffering…

  39. Screw you all. The authorities must do, and will do, everything to ensure that foreign meddlers, be it NGOs, Websites, western politicians, news media or individuals such as the filthy asshole Onnik Krikorian are kept fully in check. Fuck Levon, fuck his supporters, long live the Armenian Republic…

  40. Also, you can use the Tor anonymity network (https://www.torproject.org/) which is a dynamic and distributed network of proxy servers run by volunteers.

    You can gain access any resource on the Internet using Tor. It’s free and easy to install.

  41. I wonder why governments censor internet.let people share their ideas freely if majority agrees let them govern that country. Imagine you rule a country where most people’s hearts are not with you.that government collapses, prove look at Soviet Union.

  42. Wow i wasnt aware this even happened. And great comment about anonymously blogging although thats a bit ridiculous that people even have to.

    Derek

  43. This is a subject that really does interest me, thank you for such an interesting article that is perfectly written.

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