False and Refuted News Between April 15 – 31: Test

Karine Ghazaryan

Journalist, semiotician-to-be

The false and manipulative news that was spread at the end of April referred to the topics that are constantly being manipulated, the vaccines against Covid-19, as well as to the agricultural sector, which caused fewer sensations.

? Before reading, try to guess the false news by passing our short test.

if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
var js, sjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],
t = Math.floor(new Date().getTime() / 1000000);
js=d.createElement(s); js.id=id; js.async=1; js.src=u+’?’+t;
sjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, sjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘os-widget-jssdk’, ‘https://www.opinionstage.com/assets/loader.js’));

A joke became news

On April 24, US President Joe Biden recognized the Armenian Genocide. On the same day, information was published on the comedy program Armcomedy’s website that “a baby born in Armavir was named Joebiden.”

Although this was satire and not based in reality, some sites copied the text (1, 2, 3) without explicitly stating that it was not true. In some cases, the websites did not even mention that the source was Armcomedy.

The Grigoryan brothers spread unverified or incorrect information about vaccines and Covid-19

In the second half of April, brothers Grigor and Gevorg Grigoryan gave interviews about vaccines and Covid-19. Grigor Grigoryan is the former director of the Food Safety Inspection Body, his younger brother is a doctor and a member of political initiatives.

Grigor Gevorgyan stated that we still have very little information about the epidemic and all the means of prevention and treatment are “experimental” and have not proven their “indisputable advantage” over one another.

It is not clear what “experimental” means. If we are talking about proven efficiency and security measures, then Grigoryan’s assertion is wrong.

✅ Vaccination is a way to prevent contracting the coronavirus. Vaccines are tested in several stages, then approved by the relevant authorities of countries or international organizations, and only then begin to be used in the general population. That is, the vaccines that have passed the tests successfully and are approved by the Ministry of Health cannot be called a “pilot” remedy.

Grigoryan stated that he was in favor of vaccinations, but only those whose “impact has been studied.” According to him, since vaccines do not completely prevent infections, their effect has not been studied yet. This information is manipulative.

❌ The purpose of vaccinations is not to completely rule out possible infections, but to prevent serious cases, such as hospitalization and death. A person who has been vaccinated may be infected in some rare cases, but he or she will have a mild or asymptomatic illness. The effect of vaccines is studied before use. To be approved for use, the vaccine must be proven to be safe and effective.

Gevorg Grigoryan, the brother of the former director of the FSIB, was also in favor of vaccines, which according to him “cannot be a subject of discussion.” However, Grigoryan used to criticize the human papillomavirus vaccine without sufficient justification. Grigoryan also spoke out against masks again, questioning their effectiveness in the fight against the epidemic. The WHO and other reputable bodies recommend wearing a mask to slow the spread of the infection.

The Grigoryans are not independent experts. Among them, Grigor calls the government a “group that has seized power” and Gevorg calls it “politically impotent.” Gevorg Grigoryan is a member of the Board of Trustees of the “Homeland” Foundation founded by Arthur Vanetsyan. The website Medmedia.am, which was created by him, appeared in the center of international media attention last year due to receiving a grant from the US Embassy and spreading unverified or false information about healthcare.

The deputy spread media manipulation without checking

“Bright Armenia” party MP Armen Yeghiazaryan criticized acting Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan on his Facebook page․ “The Minister of Economy says with a serious face that we should make it so that the people living in the village do not engage in agriculture.”

The deputy published the screenshot of the video of the News.am website, which was titled “We are trying to make sure that the people living in the village are not engaged in agriculture: Kerobyan.”

News.am, however, cut the minister’s word out of context. In the video, Kerobyan said, “[…] We are also making great efforts to create non-agricultural jobs in the villages so that people are not condemned to be engaged only in agriculture, and to have opportunities to do other things.”

MP Yeghiazaryan did not check before disseminating the information. He only disseminated the image of News.am with a manipulative headline, without a video where the minister’s direct speech was heard.

The Russian state channel released a propaganda film about Armenia

Russian state channel Russia Today released a film about the recent events in Armenia and Nikol Pashinyan. There were many manipulative or false allegations in the film, which lasted for about an hour.

Russia Today is headed by journalist Margarita Simonyan. The channel is often accused of campaigning for the Russian government.

The protagonists of the film about Armenia repeated the well-known conspiracy theory about George Soros and claimed that the Velvet Revolution was organized by Western forces.

Much of the film was devoted not to the domestic politics of Armenia, but to Russia: The authors criticized the Russian opposition and gave warnings that if the opposition comes to power in Russia, the country will have problems like Armenia.

Media.am touched upon the incorrect statements made in the film in detail.

Calling school staff to the police station was not related to the election

At the end of April, there were rumors that the employees of schools were called to the police departments and interrogated for hours in order to conduct “pre-election explanatory work.” The news was spread by the former head of the Davtashen administrative district Ruslan Baghdasaryan. The information was reproduced without being fact-checked by news.am, 168.am, 24news.am, lurer.com, tert.am, hraparak.am and other news outlets, 5th Channel made a report on it.

Baghdasaryan had published a document as proof of his words. However, upon studying the document, it became clear that it was dated February 17, 2021. That is, the document was created more than two months ago when there was no decision on holding elections.

The police informed media.am that the mentioned letter was sent to the municipality on February 17 to check information, as a result of which a criminal case was initiated. The Investigative Committee informed that the criminal case refers to the abuse by the heads of five schools in Yerevan.

Denials and clarifications

? Narek Babayan, the deputy governor of Syunik, demanded that Hraparak.am refute the information that he had given instructions to and sponsored the former police chief of Sisian. According to Babayan, he has no right to give an order to the police representative.

? The Yerevan Municipality clarified information spread by the website Panorama.am that “the city authorities left the trees of Yerevan without liming them.” City Hall spokesman Hakob Karapetyan wrote that young fruit trees are being pruned to protect them from insects. And liming the decorative trees of the city has no practical significance. “Today, liming is not used in the landscaping of developed cities. In the Russian Federation, for example, liming decorative trees is prohibited by law,” Karapetyan said.

? Former Minister of Health, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister Arsen Torosyan denied the rumors that an incident had taken place with the participation of him and the relatives of the missing soldiers. Torosyan described this information as a “fabricated forgery.”

? The vice-chairman of the “Armenian National Congress” party Levon Zurabyan denied the words of the Prime Minister Pashinyan on “Azatutyun” air that the first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan told him “you have to give the lands already.” Zurabyan mentioned that this statement is “absolutely false.”

Karine Ghazaryan

Add new comment

Comments by Media.am readers become public after moderation. We urge our readers not to leave anonymous comments. It’s always nice to know with whom one is speaking.

We do not publish comments that contain profanities, non-normative lexicon, personal attacks or threats. We do not publish comments that spread hate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *