Scandalous Armenia-related video materials have recently increased in YouTube video-sharing website and social networks, resulting in heated discussions on social and mass media websites.
Citizen journalism has made those in charge either bring about changes or submit proposals for change in the areas of the army, school, ecology, animal rights, domestic and foreign policies. Some Armenian political figures have recently even released important political statements via Facebook; and journalists rapidly respond to them, releasing them through traditional mass media.
About two weeks ago, a video post, directly referring to the foreign policy of Armenia, mainly the Armenian-American relations, appeared on YouTube. Video footage posted on Youtube in which US Vice-President Joe Biden says that the Armenian president called him and asked not to rush with the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, made the office of the president of Armenia immediately release a refuting statement, when there had been no response from the American side yet.
Also, a video material shot in one of Nagorno-Karabakh military units, showing how an officer was beating and humiliating two conscripts led to public outcry.
Other video showed teachers beating schoolchildren. In one case the teacher was dismissed, and the other teacher did not work at that school any more, as the video proved to be from some time ago.
Another video footage showed two women – a young woman and her mother-in-law – telling how the woman’s sister’s husband and mother-in-law beat and killed her. This video material led to an organized signature-collecting on the Internet for adoption of a law on family violence in Armenia. Discussions over gender equality also became more active soon after the video material was posted.
Video footages on environmental topics also raised a clamor about a year ago: one of them showing an illegal hunt of wild boar in the Khosrov National Forest Preserve, and another showing a brutal game in which a lion and donkey fight in a cage – believed to be shot on the grounds of a mansion belonging to tycoon/parliament member Gagik Tsarukyan.
This recent Internet hyper-activity in Armenia is conditioned by a broader Internet coverage and availability throughout Armenia, as well as more affordable prices. According to Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) data, as of October 1 this year, more than 160,000 people use broadband Internet, and 47.1 percent of Armenia’s population (about 1.3 million people) are online.
However, IT specialists believe that the index is lower. According to the statistics of the Internet World Stats, Armenia’s Internet penetration rate in 2009 was 6.4 percent, a marked growth compared to other years. As of August 31 this year, 76,700 people use Facebook in Armenia.
Still, blogger Arthur Papyan, head of ‘Media Diversity Institute’ NGO, says: “Simply journalists have started paying more attention to the video materials posted on YouTube recently,” Papyan told ArmeniaNow, adding that they brought about no major changes.