Who Are The Journalists That Took Part In The Media Forum Held In Shushi?

Ophelia Simonyan

Journalist, fact-checker

The “Global Media Forum” ended in Shushi on July 23. Meanwhile, at a distance of 10km, a humanitarian disaster is looming over 120,000 people in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The only road to Armenia is closed.

As the media forum attendees were mainly subjected to unaddressed accusations and criticisms, with little information about them, we attempted to identify the most notable guests who participated in the forum.

According to Azerbaijani sources, the forum was attended by 150 foreign guests, including 34 state news agencies, delegates from 12 international organizations, and media companies.

The guests participated in panel discussions, enjoyed refreshments, explored the city, and captured memories through photos. At the same time, the Lachin Corridor, the sole route that links Artsakh to the rest of the world, has been blocked by Azerbaijan for over seven months. Even humanitarian transportation, such as that provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, cannot use this route. However, in some cases, the committee is permitted to transport critically ill patients to Armenia.

The road closure has significantly increased fetal loss during early pregnancy, nearly tripling the previous rate, resulting from high stress levels and malnutrition. According to a report from the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh on June 12, approximately 1,400 individuals could not undergo surgeries because of the planned surgery suspension, depriving them of necessary medical treatment.

11,000 people lost their jobs. Only a fraction of the necessary cargo was imported, about 13 times less than what was required.

The international community emphasizes the significance of opening the Lachin Corridor but also suggests delivering humanitarian aid from the Azerbaijani city of Aghdam. However, the people of Artsakh vehemently oppose this idea.

The media representatives participating in the forum did not publicly address these issues during their visit. Only two organizations, the “International Federation of Journalists” and the “European Federation of Journalists,” have appealed to the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure the free movement of journalists in Artsakh. They tried to go to Stepanakert, but the Azerbaijani forces did not allow them. Before that, the Armenian journalistic organizations addressed their colleagues participating in the Shushi media forum, “As a professional, don’t you feel compelled to demand the freedom to travel from the Azerbaijani authorities? This would allow you to witness firsthand the tragedy that is unparalleled in the modern1§ world.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also criticized the authorities of Azerbaijan for the organized forum. “The Global Media Forum organized by #Azerbaijan is ending with no progress for the press. Explanation: independent media & journalists have been kept away from the event. RSF denounces the limitless hypocrisy of Ilham Aliyev’s regime,” the organization’s tweet reads.


The participants have been identified through videos that were distributed, as well as through Ilham Aliyev’s press conference and photos. Additionally, the names of the speakers have been published on the forum’s Facebook page.

At the forum, we see the representatives of the state media agencies of Georgia, Russia, Great Britain, Iran, and Romania, the general secretaries of the organizations complaining about the restriction of movement in Artsakh and other famous media figures.

Many of the Forum participants are known for their pro-Azerbaijani leanings. First, let us single out Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko.

You can learn about his political and media endeavors by reading the article on media.am.

Another participant, French journalist Jean-Michel Brun, steers the online newspaper Lagazetteaz.fr, established by the Azerbaijani Trend news agency.

TRT World journalists, who work for Turkey’s English-language public broadcaster, played a significant role in the forum. At least five of them were participants in the panel discussion. Oubai Shahbandar should be singled out from the latter, who stands out for his biased coverage of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. One of the recent examples is published on the journalist’s YouTube channel. He and another TRT World reporter express their disapproval of the Armenian military’s actions towards an Azerbaijani soldier named Akshin Bebirov, who crossed the border approximately three months ago. They condemn the use of torture and note that it is a common practice among Armenian armed forces. Shahbandar, however, “forgets” to mention that the citizens of Armenia neutralized the soldier while he was walking unhindered and found a weapon and the phone of the murdered guard of the Copper-Molybdenum Combine, for whose murder the latter is currently being accused. The journalist also “forgets” to mention that the Azerbaijani soldier announced on his Instagram account his malicious intentions of killing Armenians and his readiness to die for the sake of Azerbaijan. 

Before this media forum, there were previous attempts to host international guests in Shushi. Nine Philippine Global Explorers (PGE) members, who were bloggers (1, 2, 3), with a small audience, hikers, and travelers, visited the city at Azerbaijan’s invitation. One of them later claimed that the Azerbaijani media had distorted his words and that he did not expect to be followed by cameras everywhere.

Ophelia Simonyan

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One Response to “Who Are The Journalists That Took Part In The Media Forum Held In Shushi?”
  1. Hovhannes Harutiunian says:

    In response, Armenia should host a similar global media forum in Yerevan and then attempt to drive the journalists to Stepanakert, via the Lachin Corridor. Armenians remain passive onlookers, criticizing this and that. Become pro-active!!!! Invite many of these same journalists to Yerevan and present an alternative narrative.

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