Against a backdrop of hybrid warfare and continuous security crises, Armenian civil society is striving to institutionalise mechanisms to combat disinformation.

Armenia has long been a target of disinformation. Before 2018, campaigns mainly focused on marginalised groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, women’s rights activists, and human rights defenders, usually in response to specific legislative initiatives. However, campaigns intensified after the Velvet Revolution and the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Disinformation related to security and negotiations with neighbouring Azerbaijan has become a daily issue, driven by internal actors and external forces, like Kremlin-affiliated media and Azerbaijan-affiliated Telegram channels.


“From the point of view of hybrid war, it is much more difficult for Armenia in the sense that it is both external and internal, and coming from different countries, and the mechanism of fake news is used, and the mechanism of false narratives is used,” Gayane Abrahamyan, founding director of For Equal Rights Educational Center NGO and a professor at New Media department of Yerevan State University, told Euractiv.

In a society grappling with war trauma, misinformation about security can have devastating effects.

In September 2022, a tragic incident occured when the father of a soldier took his own life following the circulation of fake news alleging that his son had been killed in action the night before. Subsequent publications revealed that the son was unharmed.

Least trusted institution

In addition to an unprecedented level of disinformation, public trust in media has been at record-low levels in the last two years.

In 2022, the media became the least trusted institution in the country. According to the CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey, 73% of participants in 2022 expressed a lack of trust in the media.

An opinion poll conducted by the International Republican Institute from December 2023 indicated that only 13% of respondents consider media a very trustworthy source of information on the security situation in Armenia as opposed to 38% who consider their family and friends as the main source on the subject.


The secrecy around the Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations process, and the never-ending hostile rhetoric by Azerbaijan have further made the country’s population vulnerable to the constant barrage of disinformation.

Fact-checking platforms

Armenian civil society has a history of combating disinformation: Fact-checking platforms emerged even before “fake news” became a widely recognised term.

Over the past decade, civil society and independent media have worked together on initiatives to support independent media, ensure transparency in media ownership, promote self-regulation, create fact-checking programs, and offer media literacy education.

Alongside these more traditional methodologies, during the last four years, the Armenian civil society has also adopted the promotion of legislative reforms as a strategy for combating disinformation.

Despite constant security crises, the Armenian civil society has tried to capitalise on the opportunities that opened following the 2018 Velvet Revolution and has actively engaged in policy advocacy initiatives to bring about changes to the media law, which are expected to help decrease disinformation levels in the country.


In December 2023, the Armenian government adopted the Concept and the Action Plan of the Struggle against Disinformation 2024-2026. The concept was prepared thanks to the joint efforts of a group of civil society organizations and independent experts.

In its most recent attempt, a group of civil society organisations led by Freedom House’s Armenian office together with the Ministry of Justice authored an initiative, currently under discussion, that aims to bring to life via amendments to the media law an effective system of self-regulation of mass media, based on principles of ethical reporting.

While these initiatives are promising, their implementation and effectiveness depend heavily on the government’s political will.

Despite some progress, in-depth legislative reforms and stronger institutional mechanisms for combating disinformation remain crucial.

Additionally, Armenia continues to struggle with significant gaps in crisis communication. The government has historically exhibited inefficiencies, often resorting to silence or delayed responses, and this lack of transparency further fuels public anxiety and distrust.


In addition, the need for strategic communication and effective messaging has been largely overlooked by the Armenian civil society, even when it came to communicating CSO activities to combat anti-civil society disinformation campaigns.

Lack of communication

Beyond simply countering disinformation, establishing robust crisis communication plans is critical to safeguarding Armenia’s democracy.

These plans should address immediate needs and incorporate long-term strategies for building public trust and media literacy. Both the government and civil society organisations need to be able to respond swiftly and accurately to disinformation during security crises.

On the positive side, Armenia benefits from international support in improving communication but these efforts are often fragmented and duplicated.

Enhanced coordination between international donors, the government, and civil society could lead to more effective and timely outcomes. A centralised communication hub, for example, could streamline information sharing and ensure consistent messaging across all stakeholders.

By working together, Armenian civil society, independent media, the government, and international partners can strengthen Armenia’s defences against disinformation and build a more resilient and informed society.

This article is part of the FREIHEIT media project on Europe’s Neighbourhood, funded by the European Media and Information Fund (EMIF).

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