Study: Russia disinformation campaign targeted Armenian matters

Study: Russia disinformation campaign targeted Armenian matters

PanARMENIAN.Net - An obscure disinformation campaign by Russian operatives has in recent years flooded the Internet with false stories, including about Armenian matters, according to a new report published by social media researchers from Graphika.

The operation has been named "Secondary Infektion" by researchers, with common themes ranging from the Armenian Genocide and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the “velvet revolution” of 2018.

According to Graphica, Secondary Infektion is a series of operations run by a large-scale, persistent threat actor from Russia that worked in parallel to the Internet Research Agency and the GRU (the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) but was systematically different in its approach.

The campaign used fake accounts and forged documents to sow conflict between Western countries and most often targeted Ukraine. It produced at least 2,500 pieces of content in seven languages across over 300 platforms from 2014 into 2020.

According to one such story titled “Turkey was about to open a second front vs. Armenia” and republished by dozens of sources, Turkey and Azerbaijan had allegedly planned a military operation against Armenia, with the Turkish army prepared to “blockade the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, Armenia’s north.

In another case, several petitions were launched back in 2016 to reportedly urge Democratic nominee for President of the United States Hillary Clinton to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

The campaign also targeted the “velvet revolution” of April-May 2018, which saw the resignation of former authorities and the appointment of opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country’s new Prime Minister. Articles published on several platforms allege that Pashinyan “was appointed to lead the process. Hesitance of law enforcement authorities, the record number of people involved in civil disobedience actions and quick acceptance of resignation by [then PM] Serzh Sargsyan, who had been governing the country for 10 years, all this indicated that arrangements between ‘opposition’ and legitimate authorities for the ‘democratic transfer of power’ to Nikol Pashinyan had been carried out beforehand.”

A fourth story claims that the United State is trying “to build an unprecedented coalition against Iran in the South Caucasus, bringing together such old rivals as Armenia and Azerbaijan who have been feuding over disputed territories for centuries. According to American ideologists, the gradual transfer of Nagorno-Karabakh's territory to Armenia should be a key aspect of current peace arrangements there.”

Another false claim titled “The EU Puts Off the Pan-European Recognition of Armenian Genocide Because of Turkey” cites a forged letter by German MEP Elmar Brok addressed to President of the European Council Donald Tusk, in which Brok allegedly makes a reference to German Chancellor Angela Merkel who “believes... that the solution of this issue should be postponed to a more appropriate time, since it affects the sphere of Turkey's national interests.”

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