Warnings From The US Embassy And The UN: An Opportunity For Manipulation

Ophelia Simonyan

Journalist, fact-checker

This afternoon, the Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that there was an explosion and a fire at the “Surmalu” trade center. As of now, 3 victims, 61 wounded and 25 missing people have been reported. Levon Sardaryan, head of the information department of the Yerevan Municipality, reported that the warehouse intended for fireworks materials exploded in the market. 

Against the background of this explosion, various false rumors were spread in the press and in the Armenian domain of social networks. Thus, 168.am wrote that according to its information, “Today, the UN Office in Armenia notified its employees by internal email to avoid being in the area of the Surmalu trade center.” The website also wrote that “back on August 3, the US Embassy notified its employees about possible terrorism in Armenia.” 

Facebook user Manuel Manukyan also wrote about the US embassy’s warning about terrorism. According to Manukyan, the US embassy informed its citizens about possible terrorist attacks a few days ago and asked the embassy: where did they get the information that there will be explosions in Armenia? 

“A few days ago, the US Embassy informed its citizens not to be in crowded places, informed about possible terrorist attacks. If you remember, even before the 44-day war, the US embassy warned about the war… The US embassy should answer where it got the information that there will be explosions in our country, that there are terrorists in our country, the US embassy was aware of the war and terrorism, which started with today’s explosion. This is a new blow to our nation and the answer to everything is Nikol, Nikol who is fraternizing with the Turk,” he wrote, attaching a picture of the article published on August 3 in Politik.am. 

This information was published by yerevan.today, Channel 5, politik.am and other news stations. 

The US Embassy relied on the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of the Republic of Armenia 

On August 2, the Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that explosive devices were installed in Yerevan City Hall, all metro stations, “Zvartnots” International Airport, Baghramyan 19 (National Assembly building), as well as in all important military and civilian facilities. 

On the same day, the US Embassy in Armenia, referring to the RA Ministry of Emergency Situations, alerted US citizens in Armenia to avoid visiting the very places that the Ministry of Emergency Situations had mentioned. The embassy also advised not to visit crowded places and informed that the rescue services are investigating the threats of explosive devices regarding the “Zvartnots” airport, all metro stations, the municipality and the National Assembly. Later it became known that the alarms about explosives were unsubstantiated. 

Thus, the information of the US Embassy is based on the statement of the RA Ministry of Emergency Situations. Furthermore, today’s statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications that explosive devices are placed in all metro stations, military and civilian facilities, trade centers, zoo, Baghramyan 19, and St. Grigor Lusavorich Church was also published on the embassy’s website. 

The news about the notification of the UN office in Armenia was denied 

As for the message sent by the UN Office in Armenia to its employees warning them not to visit the “Surmalu” trade center, that news was denied by the website that spread it, 168.am. 

Armine Petrosyan, head of communications of the UN office in Armenia, told 168.am that “the UN security department, as usually happens in such cases, urged the employees to be attentive and careful at 2:16 PM, about an hour after the explosion.” 

Moreover, Armine Petrosyan said that the notification about the explosion that had already taken place was not by e-mail, as 168.am wrote, but by a message, “because it was an emergency situation, and it was necessary to quickly find out whether an employee was at the scene or not.” 

Ophelia Simonyan 

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