Warring parties turned to spyware in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

May 25 023

An investigation by Access Now, Citizen Lab, Amnesty Internationalʼs Security Lab and independent Armenian mobile-security researcher Ruben Muradyan found the Israeli-made spyware tool on phones of then-Armenian official ombudsman Kristinne Grigoryan, two journalists from Radio Free Europe, a United Nations official and a former spokesperson for the country’s foreign ministry.

“Inserting harmful spyware technology into the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict shows a complete disregard for safety and welfare, and truly unmasks how depraved priorities can be,” said Natalia Krapiva, tech-legal counsel at digital rights group Access Now and one of the authors of the report, told POLITICO.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed territory in Azerbaijan, where the country has been in a protracted conflict with Armenia since the 1980s, with open war breaking out in 2020.

Thursday's report found infections with Pegasus software — one of the most sophisticated spyware tools created by Israel's NSO Group — in Armenia as early as 2020, during some of the most intense fighting of the war, and again when peace talks were taking place in October and a cease-fire was struck in November 2020. Overall, between 2020-2021, the researchers recorded over 30 successful Pegasus infections. The groups behind the research — which include some of the world's most renowned forensic analysts on spyware — said it was the first known case of spyware being used in an active conflict.

“This is the first documented evidence of the use of Pegasus spyware in an international war context,” the researchers wrote.

While there is no unequivocal evidence linking a specific government to the hack, the timing and the victims "strongly suggest" the intrusions were part of active warfare on Azerbaijan's behalf, the report suggested. However, it added that because the victims also included members of civil society that have been critical of Armeniaʼs government, it is possible Armenian services conducted the hack themselves.

Both governments were previously found to have purchased spyware; Azerbaijan-linked domains were identified in Pegasus one-click SMS infection infrastructure. Meta's December 2021 "Threat Report on the Surveillance-for-Hire Industry" also identified an Armenia-based customer of mercenary spyware firm Cytrox.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani government did not respond to a request for comment.

One of the victims of the hacking, Anna Naghdalyan, served as spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time her device was hacked. Her work “put her squarely in the middle of the most sensitive conversations," researchers wrote.

I hope the process will start soon – EU Ambassador on visa liberalization dialogue




YEREVAN, MAY 15, ARMENPRESS. Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin commented on the visa liberalization issue between the EU and Armenia during a press conference on May 15.

Asked on the problem of queues at EU embassies for entry visas, Wiktorin said she personally wants the dialogue around visa liberalization to commence, but this requires consent from all 27 members of the EU.

“I know that now there is a difficult situation. We maintain close contact with the foreign ministry, also with member states to try to understand how to facilitate and improve the visa procedures,” she said at the press conference on Europe Day and EU-Armenia relations. 

The ambassador mentioned that many European embassies experienced problems in returning to normal course of work after the COVID-19 pandemic.

She added that many travel agencies in Armenia are booking all available hours in advance, which is a problem. “That’s why we need to work in this direction. That’s why Germany and Lithuania changed their procedures,” Wiktorin said, mentioning that it is highly important for people to know that making an appointment is free of charge in all embassies.

Speaking about launching the visa liberalization dialogue, the ambassador said: “We are ready. This issue must be discussed with member countries because we can only start the dialogue when we have consent from all 27 member countries. But I know that the Armenian foreign ministry is very much involved. And it is now working with countries that have some issues of concern. I hope the process will start soon. I personally want this process to start, but we need to listen to the positions, opinions and concerns of member states.”

Talks on situation in South Caucasus may continue in Russia — Armenian PM

Russia – May 5 2023
Neither Russia nor Western countries presented specific proposals for the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani problem, Nikol Pashinyan said

YEREVAN, May 5. /TASS/. Talks between Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan of Armenia and Jeyhun Bayramov of Azerbaijan, which began in the United States and were mediated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, may be resumed in Moscow, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Friday.

In an interview with Radio Liberty (listed as a foreign agent media), he said that neither Russia nor Western countries presented specific proposals for the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani problem.

Earlier, Yerevan confirmed plans to hold a meeting between the top Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats, but did not give any concrete dates.

Mirzoyan and Bayramov held talks in the United States on settling the situation in the South Caucasus from May 1 to 4.

PM Pashinyan stated that the key disagreements with Azerbaijan concern Nagorno Karabakh, but not only


 17:29, 5 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 5, ARMENPRESS. There are key disagreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan on a number of issues, one of which concerns Nagorno Karabakh, ARMENPRESS reports, Prime Minister Pashinyan said, answering the following question of RFE/RL in Prague: What are the issues on which the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan remained in disagreement after the Washington negotiations?

"Although it was recorded in Prague and Sochi that Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each other's territorial integrity, we are still unable to reach an agreement on the wording of the draft peace treaty that would give us confidence that Azerbaijan recognizes Armenia's 29,800 square kilometers", Pashinyan said.

The Prime Minister emphasized that there are differences in addressing the rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, and they are preserved.

"Next, any agreement, even the most unambiguously written ones, have interpretations, the way these interpretations should be resolved is a very important issue, and in the end, the issue of guaranteeing peace after the signing of the peace agreement is a very important issue. Both international and local mechanisms are taken into account, particularly in connection with the withdrawal of troops, should we not have a demilitarized zone? Regarding addressing the rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, there are misinterpretations, and they are preserved. Of course, there is a certain move, if before the difference between the positions of the parties was 1 km, now it is 990 meters, it is a move, but there is still a huge difference," the Prime Minister noted.

Czech PM expresses concern over humanitarian situation in blockaded Nagorno Karabakh



 16:08, 4 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 4, ARMENPRESS. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Nagorno Karabakh resulting from the blockade of the Lachin Corridor.

“We are aware of the difficult situation , political, security and geopolitical,” Fiala said at a joint press conference with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Prague. “We are concerned over the humanitarian situation in Nagorno Karabakh resulting from the blockade of the Lachin Corridor and we agree with the EU’s stance in this issue. We believe that all possible steps must be taken for peace and stability to be established in Nagorno Karabakh and the whole South Caucasian region,” the Czech PM said.

PM Fiala attached importance to a mutually acceptable peace treaty being signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“During my discussion with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan I understood that Armenia is interested in the prospect of strengthening peace and stability in the region. Armenia is eager to find lasting solutions,” PM Fiala said.

AW: Our Samvel

Baby Samvel and his sister Mariam

Samvel Vardani Gevorgyan was born on April 27, 1999 in Ararat Marz in the village of Gineved. When Samvel was in the fifth grade, he moved with his family to Russia. Samvel was a bright student who excelled in chess and soccer. 

Samvel Vardani Gevorgyan (1999-2020)

In 2019, Samvel decided that he had to go back to the homeland and serve his nation. He left for Armenia and voluntarily joined Armenia’s Armed Forces. He began his service on January 10, 2019 and served in Mataghis. “The soldier who serves in Mataghis is a king,” he once stated. He had two more months left in service when the Artsakh War began in September of 2020. On the first day of the war, he was instrumental in causing a tank to be dismantled. His mother Hasmik has videos of his actions. His mother was unable to reach him until he finally called. “Mom, don’t cry,” he told her. “You have a hero son. I was able to stop their progression causing havoc to their tank.” 

Final picture of Samvel Vardani Gevorgyan and his comrades on the battlefield

Samvel and his fellow soldiers were barricaded for five days. His friends on the field told his mother of his heroics and how he helped the wounded to safety. Sadly, on October 10, 2020, Samvel entered his eternal rest. He is buried in the village of Gineved. He received many medals, including the Medal of Valor (Ariootian Medal).

Samvel and Mariam

Samvel was the only son of Vardan and Hasmik. His sister Mariam is married. After her brother’s death, Mariam gave birth to a baby boy and named him Samvel in his honor.

Mariam’s son Samvel, named after his hero uncle

Samvel was skilled with a particular style of weapon called Erbegah. He was known as Erbegah Samo. His last phone call to his mother was on October 6, 2020, where he stated, “Mom jan (Dear Mom), stay, darling. I love you very much, tsavet danem (let me take your pain away).” 

Samvel was a hardworking, diligent and responsible student. There was a time when his mother asked him not to work since he was working multiple jobs in Moscow. He responded with, “Mom jan, I won’t allow myself to ask you for money.” He was a kind and vibrant young man with a wonderful sense of humor. He had the utmost respect for the elderly. He had won a big chess tournament and made his city proud.

Samvel Gevorgyan, a chess champion

Hasmik states that he never exhausted her. She stated that she’s not just saying this because he’s her son, but all those around Samvel knew it. Hasmik said that he did everything in his power to make her and the family happy. His friend Aram stated that no matter what, Samvel was always willing to give a helping hand. One day, Samo was very late to come home. He felt so bad for his sleepless mother, that the next day he came home with a bouquet of beautiful flowers and asked for forgiveness.

Hasmik, who organized a special memorial tribute for her son, is unable to retell these stories without getting emotional. Her tears flow as she remembers her patriotic son. She recalls him saying, “Mom jan, I took an oath to serve my nation. I will serve in the Armenian Army only.” Hasmik said that she was very close to her son, and he had so many goals and dreams that won’t come to fruition. She misses his kind spirit of honoring everyone around him, young and old. She asked him once how he had so much compassion and love for people, and he stated that he was raised that way. He’s a peaceful dove, she says. 

Samo was also very attentive to his sister. He purchased a car for her when he started working. He was very close to his grandparents and loved to dream big. He wanted to pursue his education in finance in Moscow. He loved sweets, especially Snickers and Mars Bars. He never smoked, but later confessed that he started smoking in the army. He promised his mother that he would quit. She states that so many promises were left unfinished. 

A family picture: Mariam, Davit, Samvel, Vardan, Hasmik

Talar Keoseyan is a mother, educator and writer. Talar’s book called Mom and Dad, Why Do I Need to Know My Armenian Heritage? is available on Amazon. Tigran’s Song is available at Abril Bookstore. She has been an educator for 25 years and resides in Los Angeles, CA. She can be reached at


Film: Visions du Réel 2023 Review: LANDSHAFT Delves into the Psychogeography of Eastern Armenia’s Contested Borders

Daniel Kötter directed the contemplative road movie, screening at the Swiss documentary festival.

Martin Kudlac

In his latest psychogeographic documentary, Landshaft, German director Daniel Kötter diverges from his urban periphery-focused trilogy — Hashti TehranDesert View, and Rift Finfinnee — and turns his lens toward Eastern Armenia's captivating mountainous landscape. This landscape is home to inhabitants caught in the crossfire of extractivism, war, and displacement.

Competing in the Burning Lights sidebar at the Visions du Réel international documentary film festival, Landshaft takes viewers on a poignant road trip through the disputed border area between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Steering a beat-up Lada, emblematic of the Soviet era, along rugged dust roads, Kötter transcends the bucolic travelogue the film appers to be.

Though Landshaft is a contemplative road movie, its political underpinnings are unmistakable, as Kötter chooses not to display explicit war imagery or military equipment. The film delves into the underreported Nagorno-Karabakh wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan, spanning from 1988 to 1994 and reigniting in 2020, with post-war tensions persisting until 2022.

Kötter explores the psychogeography of the region and the emotions of those living near the mine, the border, and in the aftermath of war. This approach combines serene widescreen shots of the mountainous landscape with off-screen witness testimonies recounting displacement, resettlement, war sirens, battles, and the constant threat of future military escalation.

The film's depiction of time at a standstill in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Eastern Armenia evokes a period piece aesthetic. This temporal suspension is the result of the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, effectively trapping locals in the amber of the Soviet era.

Landshaft deliberately avoids explicit political commentary, choosing instead to listen to the stories of Armenians affected by the conflict. Kötter interweaves panoramic visuals of the expansive, desolate steppes and occasional dilapidated settlements with voiceovers from locals, sharing their experiences as both civilians and military personnel. This juxtaposition of visual and audio elements transforms Landshaft into an archaeological excavation of an ongoing historical event.

Without taking sides, the documentary delves into human rights territory and captures the feel of a lost chapter from history books. Its 'slow-cinema' form emphasizes the stagnant nature of the military occupation while maintaining a veneer of suspense beneath the surface.

Continuing his series of political geographies in Landshaft, Kötter employs his signature observational method, focusing not on the explicit and obvious but rather on the absence of violence and war. The film's implicit nature and remediation through the memories and concerns of locals serve as a powerful reminder of the underlying tension and constant threat permeating the region.

Assembly Welcomes Jewish Community Relations Council Message of Solidarity

Washington, D.C. – In a recent letter to the Armenian Assembly of America this week, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) expressed its continued solidarity with the Armenian community and people, particularly in Artsakh, where the continued blockade of the Lachin Corridor has caused a humanitarian crisis for the Armenian people since December 2022.

Reflecting on the "shared experience" of the Jewish and Armenian peoples as targets of genocide in the 20th century, the JCRC appreciated the two communities building "strong bonds of solidarity over decades through ongoing joint advocacy and collaboration."

"At this time of year when both of our communities pause to remember our histories, and as we join with the Armenian community in the coming days to commemorate their experience of genocide, it is fitting and necessary as well that we pause to bring attention to the plight of the Armenian community in Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh."

In 2020, the JCRC called upon the U.S. to intervene during the 44-day war and to deescalate the conflict, and once again "calls upon the United States Congress to meet the pressing humanitarian and recovery needs in Artsakh."

"We cannot sit idly by as the Armenian people face the risk of another extraordinary humanitarian disaster," the statement concluded.

"The Assembly welcomes this statement of solidarity with the Armenian people of Artsakh and appreciates our close and continued partnership with JCRC and the Jewish community," said Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian. "We hope other interfaith, government, and civic organizations will follow suit and express similar sentiments to help bring an end to the inhumane blockade on the Lachin Corridor and the genocidal policies of the Aliyev regime."

JCRC is an umbrella organization with 45 Member Organizations.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


NR# 2023-17

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 18-04-23




YEREVAN, 18 APRIL, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 18 April, USD exchange rate down by 0.16 drams to 387.78 drams. EUR exchange rate down by 0.33 drams to 425.67 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate down by 0.01 drams to 4.75 drams. GBP exchange rate up by 1.12 drams to 482.32 drams.

The Central Bank has set the following prices for precious metals.

Gold price down by 307.74 drams to 24879.35 drams. Silver price down by 8.05 drams to 316.55 drams. Platinum price stood at 16414.1 drams.

Easter, Our Christian Hope

The Resurrection of Christ, Jacopo Robusti, Tintoretto, Oil on canvas. 350 x 230 cm. 1565, San Cassiano, Venice. (Photo: Lluís Ribes Mateu/Flickr)

In this world that’s overwhelmed with strife, division and evil, does Easter matter? We are surrounded by the Good Friday drama, as nations are torn in painful schism, as human rights violations destroy the lives of innocent people around the world.

In this world full of brutal blockades threatening the very existence of innocent human beings, does it make a difference that one Sunday morning long ago a stone was rolled away from a tomb? That love triumphed over hate, good over evil, light over darkness, life over death?
The past three months have been trying times for the people of Artsakh and Armenia. They have suffered enough, and they are yearning for the restoration of normal life. Since December 12, 2022, the Lachin Corridor, the only road leading in and out of Artsakh, has been blocked off by Azerbaijan, leaving 120,000 Armenians trapped in Artsakh. The blockade has caused shortages of electricity and gas, medicine and food. It has affected hundreds of separated families.

In addition to this man-made disaster, the earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria have devastated many people, including fellow Armenians.

In the wake of these heart-rending realities, does Easter matter? Does Easter make any difference in the lives of people? More than ever, it does. The Easter message is one of hope. It tells Christian believers not to despair when their life plans are disrupted and their dreams are shattered because God is still in charge. We are Easter people, because we know our Lord is victorious and has given us the strength, power and will to live triumphantly. The joy of our Easter celebration is more than a passing event. It is symbolic of the joy of being with a Risen Savior and the promise of the newness of life He brings.

The Bible and the history of the Christian church tell us that Christians have dared to have hope in the face of discouraging facts, not because they hoped that things would get better but because they believed God was at work even in depressions and sufferings. St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Romans: “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Neither human resilience, nor positive thinking—or Pollyanna-type optimism—can engender real and enduring hope. Only God does. It is He Who enables us to hope in the face of apparent hopelessness. When we taste defeat and hopelessness, He gives us hope to endure. When we are bewildered, He is our hope for guidance. When we are bruised, He is our hope for healing. When we are bereaved, He is our hope for solace.

This is true on an individual as well as national level. How else can one explain the survival and enduring power of the Armenian people in the face of all evil designs that were cast against them? Despite the horrors that have been endured by the Armenian generations of the past, despite the darkness of the Armenian Genocide, despite the demonic forces that sought the destruction of our people, somehow the Christian hope survives; it nourishes and keeps us. The Bible says Christian hope does not depend on our state of feeling. It is God’s gift. It never disappoints (Romans 5:5). It is steadfast (1 Thess. 1:3).

We Armenians live in Christian hope because of what God has done in Christ through His resurrection. Christ lives and reigns triumphantly. Because He is a triumphant Lord, those who believe in Him shall also live victorious lives. This is the message of Easter and Christian hope. Yes, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage.

Kristos haryav ee merelotz.
Orhnyal eh harootyunen Kristosi.

Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian is the Executive Director of the Armenian Evangelical World Council.