Disinformation: Armenia has to dissolve its army

Karine Ghazaryan

Journalist, semiotician-to-be

Verdict: Fake news

On May 21, the Azerbaijani Telegram channel “Без Масок ЧИВ” published a document claiming it to be an agreement signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

The document stated that citizens of Azerbaijan were supposed to get preferential terms when buying property or doing business in Armenia. On top of that, the document stated that all units of the Armenian army had to be dissolved. Such sensational content spread fast on social media.

Just 17 minutes after this publication, the channel published a new post, stating that the document was fake and it was a joke. “That moment when you realize that you have Word and a printer,” the channel wrote.

Armenian users and the media re-posted the fake document created by the Telegram channel without checking it.

First Facebook users, then the press spread the fake document

“Без Масок ЧИВ” presents itself as a channel “guarding the borders” of Azerbaijan in Telegram. The channel has pronounced anti-Armenian content, the posts contain insulting expressions towards Armenians.

The fake document published by this channel on May 21 imitated the real text of the proposed tripartite agreement that appeared on the internet the day before. The real document was leaked and caused a major scandal. Shortly after the leak, the government confirmed that the document was real.

The fake created by the Telegram channel imitated this real document, some sentences were exact repetition of the real document’s text. This context made it easier for users to believe the fake document.

The forged document, however, contained a number of punctuation and spelling errors. Moreover, its text had a pronounced pro-Azerbaijani orientation, demanding demarcation and actions by the Armenian side that had nothing to do with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Such texts are not usually written in official documents, including in the tripartite statements.

The Armenian press and clickbait websites circulated this document without checking, despite the fact that it contained errors and was overall strange. The fake document was spread by Auroranews.am (which has already removed it)Mamul.am and a number of clickbait websites.

The source of the document for Mamul.am was a post by a Facebook user named Arthur Aramyan. The user wrote: “? VERY URGENT❗❗❗ Dear people, read urgently and inform people.” At the time of writing this article, Aramyan’s post already had 381 shares.

Arthur Aramyan is a member of the extreme right “Kamq” movement. In 2019, he actively protested the ratification of the Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) by the National Assembly.

Thus, this news is false. Users, the press and clickbait websites circulated, without checking, a document that contained errors and oddities, came from an unreliable source, and its author stated openly that the document was fake.

Karine Ghazaryan

This article was produced in partnership with FactCheck and is part of Facebook’s Fact-checking Programme. Given the rating, Facebook may impose different restrictions – click here for full information. For information on issuing a correction or to dispute a rating, please see here.

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