Azerbaijani Information Attacks During Tavush Fightings

5 m.   |  2020-07-28

I n recent days, Azerbaijani Army’s provocations in the Tavush region were accompanied by a number of virtual campaigns, which were mainly manifested by misinformation and hacker attacks.

Though it is too early to make a comprehensive analysis, however we can generally state that both the Armenian media and the society properly resisted the Azeri virtual attacks: fake news mostly didn’t penetrate into the Armenian domain and in case of penetration, were denied operatively.

Thus, on July 13, the Information Checking Center published a guide on “Security on Social Networks”, suggesting citizens to ensure the security of their own accounts with a few simple steps. The guide was especially important for being protected from Azerbaijani hackers. As we saw in current days, the enemy was spreading the main fake news on behalf of the broken Armenian accounts and in Armenian, thus increasing its credibility.

Among such fake news was the post spread on Facebook groups about the misinformation of the loss of 37 soldiers, which was quickly denied.

Another guide was published on the same day, offering the reader several skills to distinguish Azerbaijani misinformation from the real facts.

One of the most frequently used tools of the Azerbaijani propaganda is the spreading of fake or old photos and videos. Shortly after the start of hostilities, we witnessed the news website distributing a video, where as if the car transporting Armenian soldiers was damaged. It was formulated as an example of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces’ success. Whereas the video was shot in Afghanistan and appeared on the Internet in 2019.

On July 14, the information campaign of the Azerbaijani special services continued in the same spirit. This time photos of the April War days and the list of killed Armenian soldiers were spread on the Internet, which was presented as an “Azerbaijani success” in the direction of Tavush. All this was spread again through the broken accounts of Armenian users in Armenian and Russian.

On July 15, fake news about the losses of the Armenian side continued to appear in the Armenian media field. If initially it was talked about the death of 37 soldiers, this time the enemy was talking about 100 losses.

A  fake account, in the name of the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense Shushan Stepanyan was opened, through which Armenian falsification was spread. It should be noted that due to systematic work we managed to quickly neutralize and block the fake account.

O n the same day, Azerbaijani preachers and bloggers began their work. Thus, an Azerbaijani blogger Fuad Abbasov published a video of a protest action of a “Prosperous Armenia” party, presenting it as a protest action by Armenian mothers, whose sons were forced to go to Artsakh for war by the RA Government.

Misinformation about the victims of the Armenian side was spread by the Russian “Rosbalt” and “Gazeta” news websites as well, but after contacting them, the publications were corrected and the part about the losses of the Armenian side was removed.

On July 16, Azerbaijani propaganda machine spread a recording, where as if the Armenian soldier speaks about dozens of victims. The fact that the recording was fake was obvious, as a result of which the possible effect of the falsification was quickly neutralized.

A ridiculous incident was also recorded. A propaganda tool of Baku “” published a photo of an Armenian soldier and his name/surname, presenting him as a victim. The Information Checking Center  get in touch with that soldier, who said that he was healthy and had recently been demobilized.

Facebook account named Tavush bot was found in the Armenian domain, which was spreading Azerbaijani misinformation in Armenian. Azerbaijani hackers also managed to send fake messages to citizen’s cellphones on behalf of the Ministry of Defense as if the situation on the border is tense and that the Armenian side has losses. This news was also denied

Summing up this stage of Azerbaijani information campaign, we can single out two main problems, the enemy’s special services tried to solve:

  • Spread panic among the Armenian society

Speak about the large number of victims and losses, spread fake photos and videos, use Armenian accounts and make posts in groups with a large audience in Armenian.

  • Sow distrust in state bodies

Facebook and Twitter fake pages were created on behalf of the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, fake news were spread via mobile sms on behalf of the Ministry of Defense and other state agencies.