Categories
Internet Legal Politics Security Social Networks

A Facebook user detained on pretext of “endangering national security” in Armenia

A Facebook user, who recently came to the center of public attention for posting misinformation under the pseudonym Դիանա Հարությունյան (Diana Harutyunyan) has been detained by the National Security Service of Armenia, after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the user’s posting a threat to national security.

The Facebook account in question seems to be deleted by now. Last time I accessed it, the account’s About section made it clear that it is a sarcastic and/or parody account.

Following the US Drone strike in Iraq, which killed the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the Facebook user had posted misinformation, as if theArmenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has congratulated the US President Donald Trump on the “successful operation.” The misinformation had been first picked up by Azeri news sites and then by the Iranian ones, risking serious consequences for Armenian – Iranian relations.

“This is the case, when the false “freedom of speech” has endangered our national security,” Nikol Pashinian stated in a Facebook post. “The authors of the news and their motives must be investigated,” Armenian PM wrote.

Hours after Pashinian’s post, the National Security Service issued a statement, claiming it had carried out “investigative – operative activities” and as a result identified and detained the Facebook user.

Commenting on OWASP Armenia Facebook groups, cyber-security expert Samvel Martirosyan finds it unlikely that the NSS would have the technical capabilities to identify the user with technical means. He also excludes the possibility that Facebook would have provided data on the user for such a posting and in such a short period of time.

Meanwhile, Armenia’s top lawyer specialized on technological issues — David Sandukhchyan, has raised serious concerns about the legal aspects of the detention and claimed that the Facebook posting does not constitute a crime according to Armenian legislation and mocked both Pashinian and the the NSS for claiming that “the post by some fake user can endanger national security.”

Referring to the video published by the NSS (see below this post), which neither publishes the real name of the Facebook user, nor the article of criminal code, according to which the detention has taken place, Sandukhchyan has also written “What if there was no fake at all and it was done only to scare people, who post undesirable content on Facebook?

PS: I should just add that this is a very troubling development, since this is the second case, when a Facebook user has been detained after Pashinian directly instructed the National Security Services to take action.

Categories
Armenia Region

Footage Showing How the Armenian Helicopter was Shot Down Near Karabakh


The video uploaded by an Azeri YouTube user shows that the Armenian helicopters were not attacking the Azerbaijani positions as claimed by the Azeri officials.

Categories
Armenia

Presidential 'hotline' to act against 'false information' in Armenia

Public relations and information center of the President’s Administration has launched a ‘Hot-line’ service aimed at collecting data on cases of misinformation and falsifications of facts related to Armenia and Armenians from the internet and various other open sources of information. The service will also look for “violations of the right to receive reliable information with the objective of taking action to eradicate such violations”.
“Dissemination of inaccurate, partial, false information and misinformation, formation of negative opinion about Armenia and Armenians seriously damage the international authority of the Republic of Armenia and the information interests of Armenians”, the official statement runs – soliciting calls to hotline@iprc.am if met with such information.
This news poses a variety of questions. What is the prime target for the center? Will it be paying more attention to information sources based in Turkey, Azerbaijan? If yes – how does the center plan to counter disinformation disseminated by them – clearly it has neither the authority nor the technical means to counter information disseminated by news outlets like Hurriet or Day.az.
Does this than turn out to become a tool directly primarily at news sources based in Armenia? Can it be considered a disguised form of censorship? What is the legal basis for the ‘action’ to be taken? The Armenian Constitution and media legislation says nothing about the ‘right to receive reliable information’ – who has invented it and for what purpose?

(Thanks to Ogostos’ blog for bringing this to my attention)

Categories
Armenia

Armenia plans measures to beef up cyber security

Armenian authorities have unveiled details of the National Concept on Information Security, which would, in theory, enable the National Security Service read all private mail sent and received in Armenia.
I’ve higlighted the paragraph, which caused special concern.

Mediamax — Yerevan, 30 April:  The Armenian government approved today a number of legislative amendments, proceeding from the Concept on Information Security that was approved on 26 April.
The head of the Armenian National Security Service (NSS), Gorik Hakobyan, said at today’s session of the government that the NSS would set up a special centre of international computer network, which will ensure the security of accessible information in electronic documents of Armenia’s state agencies.
The head of the NSS said that appropriate equipment for the special centre would be installed in technological areas of internet providers.
Hakobyan said that the special centre would allow to filtrate possible external viruses and prevent attacks on the servers of state agencies

Source: Ahousekeeper, via Internet_am.

Categories
Economy

Scammers not aware of Western Union closure in Armenia?

Many Armenians received a SPAM email message today from someone called Inessa Gabayan, who claims she’s been robbed and asks for money. The ironic thing though, is that Western Union is banned in Armenia! So you see, all those efforts are in vain, dear scammers! Nobody would be able to send you anything even if they wanted to! Read my blog from time to time next time you attempt such a dumb scam 🙂 Here’s an extract from the email:

I know it a bit strange for me to have contacted you under this situation and time, believe me because i have limited access to people and i have chosen you in time of need.
I don’t know what to do or where to go,I have access to only emails, No Phone, Please can you send me $1800 today so i can return home, As soon as i get home i would refund it immediately ,you need to help me have it sent through Western Union money Transfer because there is no account here.

PS: I hate when people write ‘i’ with a small letter and don’t put spaces after comma!!!

Categories
Politics

Opposition leader predicts “humanitarian crisis” in Armenia

Citing major challenges faced by Armenia due to looming economic crisis and strained regional ties, opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian on Sunday addressed a rally to mark first anniversary of the 2008 post-election clashes in Yerevan, saying he’ll have to “disappoint” radically minded supporters and rejected call for “decisive action” for the time being.

Categories
Armenia

There's something in the air…

As one year anniversary of March 1, 2008 deadly clashes between the opposition protesters and military police forces looms closer, there’s growing tension in the society. Police and opposition mutually warned each other today not to stir further tension.

Snapshot from RFE/RL website on February 27, 2009

Major-General Alik Sargsian, chief of the national police, made clear that the police will not try to disperse thousands of people who are expected to rally on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the 2008 post-election clashes in Yerevan. “The police are very calm,” he said. “Nothing [bad] is expected on March 1. Our people understand everything.”

Categories
Armenia

Did Turkish defense company sell equipment to Armenia?

The Armenian police have denied a Turkish newspaper report that they are seeking to buy Turkish-made water cannons and other crowd control equipment.
“Hurriyet” carried a report on Wednesday that the Turkish company ‘Nurol Machinery and Industry” is negotiating with Armenian authorities over the possibility to sell vehicle-mounted water cannons to Armenia.
“Armenia contacted us. Talks have been going on for some time now,” according to Hurriet, the Nurol Machinery’s deputy general manager of marketing, Tanju Torun, said during a demonstration for the firm’s new six-wheeled armored personnel carrier, named “Ejder” (Dragon).
Same day Armenian Police refuted reports, using a strange wording however.  ArmInfo quoted the Head of the Armenian Police Press Service, Lt. Colonel Sayat Shirinyan’s words, calling a “crazy idea” the reports by Azerbaijani APA that Turkish Company ‘Nurol Makina ve Sanayi’ is negotiating with Armenia for purchase and sale of armor used when interfering in public events.
‘It is one of their usual crazy ideas. I assure you that Armenian Police does not need any new water jet cannons’, Head of the Armenian Police Press Service told ArmInfo. He said the given ‘report’ was disseminated in the context of the provocation policy of Armenia’s neighbor in the region.
Looking at the reports I have a strange feeling of being deceived. And I find it strange, that the Armenian police refutes the information by APA, but doesn’t address the Turkish police. Talks about provocation policy of Armenia’s neighbor (which one?), apparently addressing Azerbaijani media, but not the Turkish one. The name of the company also desn’t seem to match, although it might be a problem with translation. At any rate, this is a fishy story. A fishy one indeed.

Categories
Armenia

Armenian army ranks 68 in Global Military Rating

Military Parade Dedicated to 15th Anniversary Armenia's Independence

Armenia ranks 68th in rating of armies of the world according to the Press.ge news portal. According to the same source Georgia ranks 94th, Azerbaijan 83-rd.
The Georgian news source has extracted the data using the Strategypage. I tried quite hard to find this information at the source, but was unable to. However, the information is interesting, although – not very reliable.
If this is too, it would be just incredible, that Armenia is so far ahead from both its Caucasian ex-Soviet neighbors, despite the fact, that last year its military budget – around $400 million, was half that of Georgia and 6 times less than that of it’s main rival – Azerbaijan, which announced $ 2 billion in defense spending for 2008.
Coming back to the Georgian news report cited above, it says the rating is based on data of land troops and air forces. The rating contains two basic indicators: COMBAT POWER LAND and Total Quality Index. The Combat Power Land includes such parameters as number of soldiers and weaponry, technical characteristics and so on.
The Total Quality Index includes the quality of commandment, effectiveness of weapon and the level of weapon adequacy, battle experience, the level of logistics and communications, as well as historic military-culture traditions.
Top 20 mighty armies are as follows – the USA (9300), Israel (1280), China (882), the UK (819), India (801), Russia (714), Germany (393), Japan (382), South Korea (359), France (351), Taiwan (184), Pakistan (168), Saudi Arabia (140), Egypt (138), Italy (134), North Korea (131), Iran (113), Switzerland (108) and Spain (108).
Below are links to a couple of other information sources on defense budgets and armies of the region: Moscow Defense briefing, The Armenian Economist, Wikipedia.

Categories
Armenia Legal Politics

Pamphlet: "Why judges are afraid, but aren't stupid…"

In the magic land of Armenia, the legal order was proving its efficiency. Trials of law-breakers were proceeding so fast no one could keep track of them.
Not even judges. They could hardly keep order in their courtrooms but they were intent on keeping order in the country.
This time the magic had become more magical than ever. Not a single law enforcement officer had broken the law. On the contrary, order had been disrupted by citizens who did not agree with the authorities; and that was breaking the law.