“Azerbaijan has intensified its military aggression against Armenia” – Freedom House

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Freedom House on Armenia

“In 2022 Azerbaijan continued intensifying its military aggression against Armenia, despite security guarantees from Russia,” a report by the international human rights organization Freedom House says.

It contains detailed information on the situation in Armenia, describing both internal problems and external challenges. The document says, in particular, that the September advance of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces deep into the sovereign territory of Armenia “had a significant impact on the trajectory of democracy in the country.” Freedom House experts believe that these events “deserve special attention.”

This refers to military operations on September 13-14, 2022, when Azerbaijani troops advanced on the territory of Armenia in several directions. The Armenian authorities claim that more than 140 square kilometers of the country’s territory have passed under the control of Azerbaijan. The number of victims from the Armenian side is 224 people. After the hostilities, Baku returned 17 prisoners and the bodies of 157 dead Armenian soldiers.

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Armenia continues to be listed among the “partially free” countries. According to the latest report, the country “receded one position” on the freedom table.

On a 100-point scale, Armenia’s rating for 2022 was estimated at 54 points. In 2021 the country scored a point higher.

The report highlights that after the change of power in 2018, Armenia is still in “an important transition process and is seriously suffering” from the consequences of the 2020 44-day war.

The report also assesses the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. The organization considers the unrecognized republic partially free, receiving 36 points. Azerbaijan scored 9 points, and the authors of the report ranked the country as not free.

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Commenting on the use of regional structures by dictatorial regimes, Freedom House discusses the Russian-controlled military bloc CSTO:

“Unlike the crisis in Kazakhstan, the CSTO was unable to support Armenia, the only country among the members of the bloc, which is considered partially free and is under constant attack from Azerbaijan.”

The members of the CSTO are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Both the authorities and the society of Armenia are disappointed that Russia and the entire bloc operating under its auspices did not provide military assistance to the country, despite numerous appeals.

According to the authors of the report, cooperation in such regional structures is based on the narrow personal interests of dictators and can givea way if these interests do not coincide or if democratic pressure is applied thereto.

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Freedom House recalls that the Pashinyan government promised to resolve problems that have existed in Armenia for many years, such as

  • systemic corruption,
  • opaque political system,
  • imperfect electoral system,
  • weak legal system.

The authors point to another unfulfilled promise of the prime minister’s — separating business from politics, emphasizing that two major businessmen received a deputy mandate in the ranks of the ruling party.

Also according to the report, the Armenian authorities paid for use of the Predator spyware created by Cytrox in North Macedonia:

“This program has been used in a number of countries, including in Armenia, against journalists, dissidents and human rights activists.”

Freedom House cites research from Meta and Citizen Lab. The report says that Google’s Threat Analysis Group also linked similar incidents in Armenia to the use of the Cytrox program, declaring that “government-backed players” were responsible.

During a press conference on March 14, the Armenian prime minister denied reports that the government had launched a spy program, calling it “absurd.”

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  • For 2022, a decrease in the level of human rights and freedoms in the world has been noticed, for the seventeenth year in a row, and influenced by wars, coups, and abuse of power by leaders.
  • The cooperation and interaction of dictatorial regimes in international structures, where they are trying to change the rules of the game and evade responsibility, causes concern.
  • In the past year, democracies have succeeded in punishing or condemning dictatorial regimes in a number of countries, including Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
  • Three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, authoritarianism still dominates Eurasia, in large part owing to Russia.

According to the authors of the document, democracy is under threat by authoritarian countries and the policies pursued by the leaders of dictatorial states.

Freedom House research has shown that when states retreat and find themselves in the ranks of partially free or not free countries, it is difficult for them to recover:

“Therefore, it is very important to provide diplomatic, technical and financial support to those states that are promising in terms of democratic development or are facing a deterioration in the democratic situation.”

According to the report, Armenia is also among those countries where democracy is under pressure.

The Armenian Prime Minister is on a working visit to Berlin where he met with Olaf Scholz and discussed issues of Armenian security

According to the head of the human rights organization Helsinki Association, Nina Karapetyants, Armenia’s retreat would have been more significant if not for “spectacularly designed, beautifully packaged individual steps.”

“For example, as part of the fight against corruption, many structures have been created that, by their nature, are in the logic of transitional justice. Officials are involved in them, whose presence, in particular, in the anti-corruption system, is, to put it mildly, controversial,” she said.

According to Karapetyants, one can even say that Armenia has made some progress, if only this “spectacular packaging” is taken into account.

She says that in the near future, when the newly created structures start working, people will receive “dividends” from them, and it will become clear what “the content of this progress” is. So far there are no results, she said.

Karapetyants finds it difficult to say what the next Freedom House annual report will be, but believes that Armenian society itself will have a great influence on it:

“The events that took place in Georgia proved once again that the people are not an indefinite mass, but a decisive force if they organize themselves. When the people know exactly what they want and have clear demands, no one can stop it, be it the pro-Russian government in Georgia or the authorities using weapons and large police forces.”


Armenian News note:
The Freedom House Report is at