Taking Sides

Women and children read books in a bomb shelter as they seek refuge from shelling in Stepanakert/Khankendi, in region of Nagorno-Karabakh. October 1, 2020″ Karen Mirzoyan/AP Photo

2020 has already proved to be one of the strangest years in this century, and it still brings us surprises. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which was quiet for some time after the truce in 1994, suddenly restarted and was already called the “Second Karabakh war” on the news. 

Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory inhabited by the Armenian people, which was part of Azerbaijan during the USSR. However, after the USSR’s collapse, it became a part of Armenia, which led to active hostilities between the two countries in 1992-94. As a result, the territory of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh mostly stayed under the control of Armenia. 

The conflict re-emerged this September, and both countries declared that it was the other one who fired the first shot. Now, both sides are saying that they hit more soldiers than the other. The history is written by the winners; for now, there are two fighting sides, and it’s hard to get an unbiased perspective for the media. 

Euronews published an article about this conflict from the Azeri angle on October 5. The same day the Russian version of this article was published on the Russian Euronews website. The latter’s author is different from the author of the original one, who is not even mentioned. They bear different names: “Exclusive footage shows bomb damage…” (English version) versus “The reporter of Euronews talks from Terter…” (Russian version), which already hints that it’s not a literal translation. 

In the original article and in the footage, the reporter, who seems to be local, goes to the shooting sites, takes photos and videos, talks to people, and shows how much damage was done to the city by the Armenian bombardment. It is highlighted that the footage is filmed “under supervision,.. but without interference from the Azeri military”. It’s also mentioned that the reporter “was the only foreign journalist able to gain access” to the site, raising questions, why is that?

The day before the video was shot, Azerbaijan declared that the city of Terter was under attack. In the footage, we see that the reporter is wearing protective gear, and we hear a shot fired; some of the houses look ruined, with broken windows. However, the Russian version of the article adds that the Armenian Ministry of Defense claimed that this attack was just disinformation.

The further the article goes, the more visible are the differences between the two versions. The original one talks about Iran and its promises of helping achieve peace, while the Russian version explains that all the information about casualties comes only from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan. In the end, the Russian version states: “The motto of Euronews: “we value all opinions and all views.” Soon, we will offer to your attention a story from the Armenian side”; the original version doesn’t have this quite important inscription. 

In the comments sections of the original story (on the website and FB), people are criticizing the article, calling it “propaganda” and a “not reliable” source. It seems that the Russian version tried to mitigate the English version’s position, including some additional information and reassurance that the Armenian side will also be presented. 

The media shouldn’t take sides, but sometimes it’s inevitable, especially if the story is so delicate. It’s crucial to take into consideration that every article is written by someone who has their own personal bias.

And the author of this blog post is not an exception. 

Written by Anastasia Lavrenyuk

Resources:

  1. Euronews. (2020, October 5). “Nagorno-Karabakh: Exclusive footage shows bomb damage in border towns as violence continues.” Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://www.euronews.com/2020/10/05/nagorno-karabakh-exclusive-footage-shows-bomb-damage-in-border-towns-as-violence-continues#spotim-launcher-widget-1250724
  2. Marfa Vasilieva. (2020, October 5). “The reporter of Euronews talks from Terter and Ganja.” Euronews. Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://ru.euronews.com/2020/10/05/reporter-from-azerbaidjan-side# 
  3. Natalia Liubchenkova. (2020, October 5). “In pictures: Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, EU’s legal action against the UK, fires in Ukraine.” Euronews. Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://www.euronews.com/2020/10/02/in-pictures-nagorno-karabakh-crisis-eu-s-legal-action-against-the-uk-fires-in-ukraine#
  4. V.N. Kazimirov. (n.d.).”Breakthrough to the truce in Karabakh.” Retrieved October 8, 2020, from http://www.vn.kazimirov.ru/x014.htm
  5. Michail Fishman. (2020, October 5). “The Second Karabakh War.” TV Rain. Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://tvrain.ru/teleshow/fishman_vechernee_shou/vtoraja_karabahskaja_vojna-517060/ 
  6. Anastasia Yakoreva. (2020, October 2). “When “Grad” works, it’s like an earthquake. An interview with the reporter of TV Rain Dmitriy Elovsky. He came under fire in Nagorno-Karabakh and is telling what is happening there.” Meduza. Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://meduza.io/feature/2020/10/02/kogda-grad-rabotaet-eto-kak-zemletryasenie 
  7. Meduza. (2020, September 27). “Fighting re-emerged in Nagorno-Karabakh.” Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://meduza.io/feature/2020/09/27/v-nagornom-karabahe-vnov-idut-boi 

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