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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07YEREVAN592 2007-05-10 12:55:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Yerevan
Cable title:  

PRO-GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPERS EXPRESS RULING ELITE'S

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM KPAO AM 
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VZCZCXRO1230
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHYE #0592/01 1301255
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 101255Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5526
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC 0045
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 YEREVAN 000592 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM KPAO AM
SUBJECT: PRO-GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPERS EXPRESS RULING ELITE'S
ANTI-U.S. IRRITATION IN MONTHS PRIOR TO ELECTION

YEREVAN 00000592 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: IO Liz Zentos for reasons 1.4 (b, d)

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SUMMARY
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1. (C) In the weeks leading up to the May 12 parliamentary
election, two pro-government newspapers regularly published
articles highly critical of the United States and other
Western missions and NGOs. Hayots Ashkhar and Golos Armenii
newspapers have denounced the United States for interfering
in Armenia's internal affairs, claimed that international
organizations such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI)
are promoting a "color revolution," and criticized a British
official for his comments during a private meeting with an
opposition leader. The newspapers, both rumored to receive
funding from the head of the governing Republican Party,
Prime Minister Serge Sargsian, had been less critical of the
United States in recent years, but appear to have returned to
their previous stances. This may well reflect the ruling
elite's discomfort with the success of election support
programs. End summary.



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NEWSPAPERS RETURN TO ANTI-U.S. STANCE


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2. (C) While Hayots Ashkhar (in Armenian) and Golos Armenii
(in Russian) were at one time considered to be anti-U.S.,
they had gradually moderated such criticism. In recent
months, however, the two pro-government newspapers appear to
have resumed the role of "attack dogs," presumably on behalf
of the ruling party elite. They are criticizing not only the
U.S. Embassy, but also denouncing U.S. policy in general, as
well as the work of other Western missions and international
organizations. This criticism has focused largely on the
work that these organizations are doing in connection with
the upcoming parliamentary elections.



--------------------------



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ELECTION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM CALLED DOMESTIC INTERFERENCE


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3. (SBU) This shift began in January, 2007, when both papers
published remarkably similar articles that characterized the
U.S. government's well-publicized Democracy Support Program,
to assist Armenia to hold free and fair elections, as
interference in Armenia's internal affairs. Hayots Ashkhar
said, "Today there are many 'cultural attaches' in Armenia,
and it is written on their faces what they are doing. But at
least they are not acting openly, while our American friend
(the U.S. Charge d'Affaires) is not even trying to hide what
he is up to....What government would allow an official tasked
with removing the existing authorities through a
revolutionary change in power to remain in the country?"
Hayots Ashkhar also called on the Embassy to release the
names of NGOs it was funding and proposed that Armenia should
follow Russian President Putin's opposition to foreign
financial support for political development.



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PAPERS CRITICIZE NDI AND OTHER NGOS


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4. (SBU) Hayots Ashkhar also published a number of articles
criticizing international NGOs, especially NDI, claiming that
they were attempting to foment revolution in Armenia. On
March 23, the newspaper published an article accusing NDI and
IRI of direct involvement in "color revolutions" in Ukraine,
Georgia, and Serbia. The newspaper charged that NDI and
other NGOs were trying to promote a similar revolution in
Armenia. The following day, the newspaper published a
continuation of this diatribe, saying that NDI was trying to
unite Armenian youth against the government. On April 21,
the newspaper printed an article in which it noted that very
few people attended a rally organized by the opposition
Republic Party, and claimed the only people who were present
were representatives of international NGOs including NDI,
USAID, Freedom House, NED, and the Soros Foundation. The
article said that these representatives attended in order to
determine whether it was "worthwhile" investing in that
party's oft-stated desire to create a revolution.



--------------------------



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CRITICISM OF OPPOSITIONIST'S MEETING WITH WESTERN DIPLOMAT


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5. (SBU) On April 23, Golos Armenii published excerpts of a
secretly recorded conversation between opposition Orinats

SIPDIS
Yerkir leader Artur Baghdasarian and the British DCM in
Armenia. In addition to publishing excerpts from the tape,

YEREVAN 00000592 002.2 OF 002


which many believe was recorded by the Armenian National
Security Service (NSS), Golos Armenii criticized both the
British diplomat and the opposition leader, saying that they
"defamed" Armenia by making negative statements about
Armenia's authorities. Hayots Ashkhar further criticized the
British official, saying that the British Embassy's statement
(i.e. that it was dismayed that a clandestine recording was
made and released to the press) was "an unsuccessful and
senseless attempt to justify the British Embassy's
interference in Armenian internal affairs, which falls short
of the principles of diplomatic ethics."



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COMMENT


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6. (C) The newspapers' change in attitude towards the United
States appears to be linked largely to the upcoming
parliamentary elections and concern that foreign election
support might hurt the chances of the governing parties. The
rumored link between the newspapers and Prime Minister Serge
Sargsian is noteworthy, especially as Sargsian has recently
been making public statements on not only the need for free
and fair elections, but also asserting, "I don't remember a
case of political pressure from the United States." It is
judged by most observers that neither of these newspapers
could have published these strong criticisms without at least
the tacit concurrence, if not the explicit direction, of
Armenia's ruling elite. Consequently, we cannot but believe
that these anti-U.S. screeds demonstrate that key Armenian
leaders are discomforted by the success of our
democratization programs.
GODFREY