By Angela Hassassian
The independent Russian news agency Meduza says it has exposed Kremlin’s guidelines sent to media, which emphasized framing the Nagorno-Karabakh narrative to depict Armenia and its Western “partners” as the primary culprits for the current crisis. The same guidelines push for the portrayal of Russian peacekeepers as heroes rescuing civilians amidst ongoing shelling.
Sent by the presidential administration to state and pro-Kremlin media employees on the evening of September 19, the manual recommends blaming Armenia and Western nations by underscoring that “the Armenian leadership has recognized the sovereignty of Azerbaijan over Karabakh.”
The guidelines advise media representatives to reference statements made by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in October 2022, in which he recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial sovereignty.
One excerpt from the manual states, “Most likely, the Armenian Prime Minister was pushed to make this statement by his Western ‘partners,’ who should fully share responsibility for the consequences with him.” The Kremlin’s guidance implies that the Armenian leadership’s decision gave Azerbaijan the green light for a full takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh·
The Kremlin recommends portraying Russian peacekeepers’ status as “observant” and highlighting their role in assisting the “evacuation of civilians.” The manual also suggests emphasizing that civilians are seeking “shelter” in an Orthodox church near the Russian peacekeeping contingent.
These narratives have already surfaced in the Russian tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, which claims that “Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agrees that Karabakh is Azerbaijan” and implies that the Armenian government wishes to distance itself from Karabakh and move toward the West.
Another statement published in Lenta.ru, a Russian-language online newspaper, asserts that “the Karabakh issue is essentially becoming an internal matter of Azerbaijan.”
Simultaneously, the manual encourages pro-government media employees to highlight the alleged successes of Russian troops in Ukraine.