Image of Armenian Diaspora in Azerbaijani Online Media: on the case of

Gayane Harutyunyan 

Published in «Հանրային հաղորդակցություն: Արդի մարտահրավերնեն ու զարգացման հեռանկարները Հայասատան 2013: գիտաժողովի նյութեր», Երևան, Էդիթ պրինտ 2014, էջ 183-193

Nowadays, when online media has gained its unique place in communicative field, it is getting more and more important to study what kind of information is being spread through online media. The importance of studying informational flows spread by online media is getting more significance in case when there is no any other main source of communication, because in that case online media plays the main role of constructing and reproducing certain images, which form not only perception but also a potential reaction toward a certain object.

Current political situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan doesn’t give opportunity for a formation of direct communications in a larger scale between the two states and nations, still certain type of communication takes place in online media and thus it becomes one of the main sources of information about opposite side. That is why it is important to understand what kind of image is being is created by Azerbaijanian online media. 

Our research aims to understand what kind of image of Armenian Diaspora is depicted in Azerbaijani media. In order to be able to fulfill our research goal we decided to apply for qualitative content analysis method. Implementation of this method allowed to reveal stereotypical images of Armenian Diaspora presented in online media. As a material for analysis served one of the biggest online news resources The selection of this online newspaper was determined by the fact that it is one of the most popular among readers and it has the biggest Russian language audience. The last criterion has big importance for our research as Azerbaijanian version of news site is not achievable because of language barrier and the English one contains twice as less articles as Russian one. Within newspaper was realized purposive sampling: that is were selected all articles which include “diaspora” notion in the period from 01.01.2013 till 15.10.2013. The selection of this period was determined by the intensification[1] of number of published article covering topic of Armenian Diaspora.

From the scope of our research it is very important to clarify the main notions. So let us define what diaspora[2] is. In terms of this research we accept W. Safran’s definition[3] and approach toward study of diaspora. According to W. Safran an ethnic group can be perceived as diaspora if it is moved or displaced from the mother land, and if it has following characteristics:

  • Memebers of the group or their ancestors were moved/displaced from the same “center” to different foreign “ provinces”.
  • Members of the group share the same identity as of those leaving at their historical motherland.
  • Memebers of the group keep and share the same collective memory about their historical motherland.
  • Members of the group believe that they won’t be able to integrate totally at their historical motherland, and that is why a certain extent of alienation and isolation exists.
  • Members of the group believe that motherland of their ancestors is the ideal place where they or their children would return.
  • Members of the group believe that through collective efforts they should protect and promote their historical motherland.
  • Members of the group want to stay as a national or ethnic minority so they could transmit “their own” culture to the next generations.
  • Cultural and symbolic connection with their histocial motherland is reflected in their social institusions.

Taking into consideration mentioned approach in our research we perceive as Armenian diaspora the one[4] which originated after Armenian Genocide in 1915 in Ottoman Empire. So, in terms of our research we will search for stereotypical images in Azerbaijani online media from that point of view.

Due to qualitative content analysis it was possible to reveal following stereotypical characteristics which in a sum depict image of Armenian Diaspora. The image of Armenian Diaspora in Azerbaijani online news sites were presented through different aspects: its functionality, structure, and types.

First of all Azerbaijani online media emphasized functions of Armenian Diaspora- what is the main aim of Armenian Diaspora. From this point Armenian Diaspora was depicted as a certain structure which has very specific goals, which at the end tend to destroy Azerbaijan as a state and as a nation. These functions were:

  • Organization of conspiracy toward Azerbaijan

Qualitative content analysis showed that Azerbaijanian online media depicted Armenian Diaspora as a center for planning organized conspiracy. According to studied media resources that is the main mission of Armenian Diaspora, which as a final result should lead to deterioration and termination of international relations between Azerbaijan and the hegemonic countries in the world. For instance, by covering topic devoted to recognition of Nagorno Karabakh independence by Louisiana State Senate, were presenting it as if it was part of conspiracy organized by Armenian Diaspora in USA in order to spread panic and fear in Azerbaijan, because recognition of Independence of Nagorno Karabakh will automatically lead to a loss of territories for Azerbaijan. It is notable that Armenian Diaspora organizes conspiracies not only in the international level but also in micro level, interfering to a simple citizens life. For instance, online media covering the Bryulevo case[5] were depicting the Azerbaijani perpetrator as a victim omitting his crime. Online media blamed Armenian Diaspora in the accident, by seeing evil intent- to damage Azerbaijani-Russian relations.

  • Propaganda and Disinformation

Studied online resources depicted image of Armenian Diaspora as «an evil centre» for organizing different disinformation activities against Azerbaijan. The main of these activities were considered to be spreading disinformation about recognition of Nagorno Karabakh by different states of USA. One of this kind of examples[6] is the article which states that «Azerbaijani agencies as usually discovered a huge lie which was presented by Armenian media stating that Maryland had recognized Nagorno Karabakh[7]». Though Azerbaijanian news put a reference to Armenian source, still the latter was not speaking about «Recognition of Karabakh but about support in development of democratic institutions from Maryland»[8]. So, it turns out that Azerbaijanian sources blame Armenian Diasporian lobby in spreading disinformation, but actually they do spread information not corresponding to reality. Here we see social psychological phenomenon which called «projection» when one side of conflict rejects its own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to the opponent [Анцупов А. Шипилов А. 346, 2009].

  •  Repression of International communities and organizations 

Online media often represented Armenian Diaspora as a tool in Armenian government’s hands, which is used for pressuring international community and organizations. According to data, Armenian Diaspora used brutal force and psychological tools for controlling members of different international organizations. Due to that pressure international organizations usually present Armenia in a better light in their reports: Armenia is being covered as more democratic and free country than Azerbaijan is. For example Armenian Diaspora keeps under pressure such organizations as Freedom House[9] and OSCE. These organizations stated that Armenia is more free country than Azerbaijan taking into account such indicators as freedom of Press and Internet and that is why they were depicted as repressed and corrupted.

  • Armenian Interests Lobbying

Azerbaijani online media depicted Armenian Diaspora as one of the most influential and rich lobby which follows Armenian ethnic interests. Armenian Diaspora from this point of view was a coalition of groups and individuals who influence world politics in order to support Armenia and Karabakh. Armenian Diaspora in order to reach its ethnic interest spends millions of dollars annually to influence especially US government and push them to accept Armenian Genocide. Besides, according to Azerbaijani media, Armenian Diaspora uses other means to reach the goal such as corruption, terrorism, and other types of pressure.

  • Organizing  terroristic activities

Most of the articles covering topic of Armenian Diaspora somehow were touching issue of terrorism. In this context Armenian Diaspora was depicted as organized terroristic community[10]. Terroristic actions of Armenian Diaspora were directed against not only state of Azerbaijan but also against average citizens of Azerbaijan. It was interesting to note that some articles were presenting Diaspora as a terroristic group which was directed only toward Muslim neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijanian; by this they were emphasizing violent and not tolerant character of Armenian Diaspora. This picture was a part of justification of the statement according which Armenian Diaspora wants to destroy Azerbaijan. The rest of the articles were representing terroristic activities which were directed toward whole world even Armenians, by this showing «real nature of Armenian Diaspora which does not spare even its compatriots»: Armenian terrorists from Diaspora were systematically robbing rich and wealthy Armenians leaving in Istanbul and Baku. The money they stole was used for their terroristic actions. In the articles which touched the topic of Armenian terrorism Armenian Diaspora were presented as members of ASALA, Armenian Revolutionary Army and Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide. So, in this context the whole Armenian Diaspora is being accused in «spreading culture of violence by organizing terroristic activities and heroizing such terrorists as Soghomon Tehleryan, Monte Melkonian, Harutyun Takoshyan, Simon Simonyan and etc».

  • Stimulating economy of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

 The last function of Armenian Diaspora according to Azerbaijanian media was stimulating economic system of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. states that after Soviet Union collapsed Armenia was the only country which had such a privilege to have so rich and wealthy Diaspora. In this context Armenian Diaspora was depicted as a «sack of money» which is not in solidarity with the Armenian state but still makes big investments in development of infrastructures and business of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

So, these were the main functional meaning of Armenian Diaspora according to Due to this kind of description it was possible also to reveal main characteristics which were used as markers for Armenian Diaspora. Thus, according to the Azerbaijani media Armenan Diaspora was able to realize mentioned functions because of its specific characteristics. These characteristics can be divided into two main groups- one which are perceived as positive ones by Azerbaijani media: richness, high influence, autority and strong networking, and negative ones nationalism, intolerance, conservatism. In terms of positive characteristic Azerbaijani media emphasized that due to that features Armenian lobby was able to succeed in all its operations, and if they had the same resources like government of Azerbaijan would have better results in world politics. Covering the negative characteristics Azerbaijani media in the argumentation was contrapositioning Azerbaijani people and Armenians in general. This kind of comparison and contradiction creates positive image of Azerbaijanian «Self» and negative image of «The Other» / Armenians.  According to G. Tejfel exactly this type of comparison constructs ethnic identities as comparison allows identifying who you are and where you are in a universe [Бергер П., Лукман Т. 164, 1995 ].

Speaking about characteristics of Armenian Diaspora it was interesting to note that Azerbaijanian media mixed two different social phenomenas like diaspora and emigration under one. Though, both phenomenas were named as “Diaspora” it was possible to split them from topic headlines and text discourses. Here the important point is that Armenian Diaspora in its traditional meaning and Armenian emigrants were described in totally different, nearly opposite characteristics. So, from this point Emigrant- Diaspora was presented as «poor», «cooping for a lump of bread», «dirty», «destitute», «left to destiny’s wish» and criminals. According to publications these Armenians bear culture of violence and crime, and that is why these group also was presented as «vicious»  and «spoiled».

It was also interesting that Azerbaijani media covering topics about Armenian Diaspora was separating different communities of it and picturing them differently: community of US, Russian Diaspora, French Diaspora and Hungarian Diaspora. According to media these are the most significant diasporian communities and each of them has its own role and stands for a certain level of hierarchical structure of Armenian Diaspora in general. So, according to Azerbaijani media Armenian Diaspora of US is the most influential as it is the richest one, and that is why this community is the head of all communities. Russion one is the most biggest that is why it also has priveligy to make certain desicions. Frech Diaspora was considered to be the most active in Europe. Hungarian Diaspora was depicted as the most provocative. This image of Hungarian Diaspora emerged because of the connected to the active participation in protests devoted to the Ramil Safarovs extradition to Azerbaijan.

Besides functions of Armenian diaspora and its inner structure it is also interesting to understand how the argumenattion of these images take place. The argumentation of news site followed mainly principle of «Reference to the authorities[11]». As a main authority for Azerbaijani site were foreign scholars: historians, politologists and journalists. These refferences and citations followed one main aim: to confirm the point that was presented in the media but using  different methods. Firstly,  interviews  and  quotes from foriegn sholars’ speech were being used as one more additional source which confirmed this or that statement upon weackness of Armenia as a state and Armenian Diaspora. For instance a German politologist stated that «even though Armenian Diaspora creates many obstacles despite those International communities are on Azerbaijani side»[12]. Secondly, such refferences were mention which were opposing to Azerbaijani point, that is showing that Armenian Diaspora is doing everything to support  Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. One of these kind examples is interview with Slovenian journalist which argued that «Europe is being ruled by bureaucracy and Karabakh is being ruled by democracy»[13]. In this case media was circulating stereotype of «conspiracy toward Azerbaijani nation» and as a prove showing that Armenian diaspora had corrupted even foreign shcolars. But still, even in this case argumantation used «The exception proves the rule» principle tended to show the rightness of the statement presented. Actually this phenomena is well knows especially in social psychology and is called selective perception.

To conclude we can say that image of Aremenian Diaspora has enough importance in Azerbaijanian one of the biggest online news resources. Armenian Diaspora was presented through its functions and structure, which was seen as a hostile organization and that is why description of it clearly fitted in terms «image of Enemy».


  1. Абрамян Л. «Армения и Армянская Диаспора: расхождение и встреча», «21-й ВЕК» № 2, Ер. 2005 стр.137-155Анцупов А.Я., Шипилов А.И.  «Словарь конфликтолога» М.  2009
  2. Осипов Г. (ред.) «Социологический энциклопедический словарь», «НОРМА» М. 1988
  3. Бергер П., Лукман Т. «Социальное конструирование реальности. Трактат по социологии знания» ; М.: Медиум, 1995
  4. Salmon M. «Introduction to Critical Reasoning», «Mason: Thomson Wadsworth», 2006 p. 132–142
  5. Brubaker R. «The «diaspora» diaspora»,  «Ethnic and racial studies» Vol. 28, #1, 2005  p. 1-19
  6. Cohen  R. «Global Diasporas: an introduction» «Routledge» NY 2008

[1] The intensification was revealed by counting all article corresponding to the topic and then splitting and comparing by years. According to that statistics 01.01.2013 till 15.10.2013 were counted more topics than during previous two years.

[2]The term derives from the Greek verb and means “scattering, dispersion” [Осипов 71, 1998].

[3] There are many definitions and approaches toward what diaspora is. R. Brubaker stated that in that use of the term diaspora has been widening. He suggests that application of the term diaspora can be applicable for essentially to any and every nameable population category that is to some extent dispersed in space [R. Brubaker 3, 2005]. R. Cohen suggested a list of characteristics which label social group as a diaspora. These characteristics are: 1. Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or more foreign regions; 2. alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in pursuit trade or to further colonial ambitions; 3. a collective memory and myth about the homeland, including its location, history and achievements; 4. an idealization of the putative ancestral home and a collective commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity, even to its creation; 5. the development of a return movement that gains collective approbation; 6. a strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in a common fate; 7. a troubled relationship with host societies, suggesting a lack of acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might befall the group; and 8. a sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other countries of settlement; and 9. the possibility of a distinctive creative, enriching life in host countries with a tolerance for pluralism [Cohen R. 6, 2008].

[4] According to different scholars’ first formation of Armenian Diaspora was considered to start after Armenia was separated between two countries Persia and Byzantium in 387 [Абрамян Л. 138, 2005 ].

[5] On October 11th a murder of 25-year old Russian was committed by a person who was ethnic Azerbaijani.

[6] See the article «Опровергнута очередная ложь армянского агитпропа» by following the link by 11.10.2013

[7] Here and after this style will indicate quotes from the field work.

[8] See the article «Maryland supports Nagorno Karabakh on its way to democratic development» by following the link

[9]See the article «”Freedom House” подыгрывает властям Армении» following the link  by 11.10.2013

[10] See «Террор на экспорт: Армения становится опаснее» by 10.10.2013

[11] Argument from authority or reference to the authorities. The argument from authority can take several forms. As a statistical syllogism, the argument has the following basic structure: Most of what authority A has to say on subject matter B is correct. The strength of this authoritative argument depends upon two factors: The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject. There exists consensus among legitimate experts in the subject matter under discussion [Salmon M. 135, 2006].

[12] See «Германский аналитик: «Международное право на стороне Азербайджана»» by 11.10.2013

[13] See «Словацкий журналист – грязное пятно на репутации журналистики by 11.10.2013

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