Fake news: Aliyev says that he is ready to hand over two sheep in return for Pashynian's son

Verdict: fake news

The website Hraparak.am recalled the conversation between the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the Chief of the Azerbaijani National Security Service (NSS) Ali Naghiyev. The website was alluding to “reliable information” delivered to them by unnamed sources. The only source whose identity they disclosed in the article was the former Russian official Boris Avagyan. Avagyan is a fugitive in Russia and a regular hero of media scandals in Armenia.

Claims Made Without Evidence

On June 9, Hraparak.am wrote that they received “reliable information” about a conversation between Ilham Aliyev and the Azerbaijani NSS leader Ali Naghiyev. According to Hraparak.am, Aliyev responded to the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s announcement, who said he was ready to give his son to Azerbaijan in return for all the prisoners of war.

According to Hraparak.am, Aliyev commanded to relay to the Armenian side that “he is ready to hand over 2 limping sheep for a beer seller, and a female donkey for Anna Hakobyan.”

Anna Hakobyan is the PM's wife. The phrase “beer seller” refers to Pashinyan’s son, Ashot; the video of him selling beer in one of Yerevan's cafes spread in the Armenian press in spring.

Although the website directly quotes the President of Azerbaijan, it presents no proof that Ilham Aliyev has said these words. One of the possible ways to obtain such details from the private dialogue between any leader of a country and its head of NSS, would need to be leaked in the press, also including in Azerbaijan. If that was the case, Azerbaijani media would also publish this information. However, media.am and factcheck.ge were not able to find any mention of such news anywhere in open source.

Hraparak.am does not back its statements by any facts - it only implies that it relies on the anonymous sources and assures the reader that this is “reliable information”. However, what makes this information reliable is not mentioned at all. Generally, when mainstream media does not want to disclose the source and is willing to publicize information, they usually give additional information (e.g. anonymous sources from the government circles, anonymous sources from media, etc.) about the source or methods the information was obtained by. Neither Hraparak.am, nor colonel Boris Avagyan support their claim by any credible and reliable arguments on how they obtained the details of the conversation between the President of Azerbaijan and the head of one of the main security agencies.

The Only Known Source is a Former Official – Author of Media Scandals

The only source which Hraparak.am names is Boris Avagyan. “We got in touch with Colonel Boris Avagyan for comments. He said that he also has similar information”, the website mentions. As already said above, Avagyan also provided no sources, thus making a claim without any evidence.

In the 2010s, Boris Avagyan held several state official positions in Russia. He also did business: headed a customs intermediary organization in Saint Petersburg. In 2016, however, Avagyan was stripped of the position he held due to his participation in a brawl at a karaoke club. In the same year, the Russian authorities filed a criminal case against him, with charges of smuggling. Avagyan fled the country and is currently a fugitive in Russia.

Boris Avagyan has already been residing in Armenia for a couple of years․ He has held state positions in Artik town municipality and in Nagorno-Karabakh. He often gives interviews to the local media. He delivers unsubstantiated scandalous information without supporting his claims with evidence (after one such scandal, he lost his position in Nagorno-Karabakh). He has made, for example, the assertion that the organization HALO Trust, which does demining operations in Nagorno-Karabakh, is conducting espionage in favor of Turkey. Even though Avagyan’s allegations had no proof, they still spread in the Armenian news. Avagyan’s scandalous biography and his statements have previously been reviewed by the fact-checkers on a number of occasions (example 1, example 2, example 3).

Editor's Note:This article has been edited. The previous version stated that according to Hraparak.am Ilham Aliyev was "tipsy" during the conversation. However, Hraparak.am called Nikol Pashinyan "tipsy", and not Ilham Aliyev. The change was made on 20.07.2021.


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