Armenia Online: Activism or slacktivism

The development of the internet in Armenia has been frustrated by the problematic privatization of the ArmenTel monopoly in the late 1990s. Closed borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey have exacerbated the problem, making connection speeds the slowest and most expensive in the region, though how this has actually affected internet penetration remains unclear. Despite these problems, usage is increasing, notably since the mid-late 2000s, when three cellular phone companies entered the domestic market. Given constraints on media freedoms and freedom of expression, many independent and pro-opposition news outlets are reliant on the internet as the only means to disseminate alternative information to the population. For example, blogs also moved in to fill the information gap when a 20-day state of emergency imposed restrictions on mass media activity following post-presidential election clashes in 2008 which left 10 people dead. As a result, international donors are increasingly interested in funding online media projects in Armenia.

Authors: Onnik Krikorian