YPC Weekly Newsletter
November 10-16

On November 11, Lusineh Khachatrian, correspondent of Epress.am, was invited to the Special Investigation Service (SIS) of Armenia. According to Epress.am, the person who invited the journalist to SIS explained that she had called someone named Emma Sahakian from her personal cellphone, and that SIS wished to clear up the reason of that call.

Lusineh Khachatrian responded that she would show up at the SIS only if she receives an official notice. Later, the SIS representative called again. This time the journalist was asked to come to their office in person and to take her notice “not to waste time”. Lusineh Khachatrian refused to come and insisted that she would show up in SIS only after the notice is sent to her, writes Epress.am.

Epress.am reminds also the story of Emma Sahakian, the woman who was contacted by Lusineh Khachatrian. Emma Sahakian is continuing her sit-in in front of the RA President’s Office for quite a long time now. She is protesting against the expropriation of her apartment. Epress.am has covered her story many times and interviewed her.

November 3-9

On November 3, “The Voice of Russia” started broadcasting in Armenia on FM 106.0. Radio station is a joint project of “The Voice of Russia” and “News-Armenia” (both part of “Russia Today” international multimedia news agency) and positions itself as a radio specializing on news and analysis. 

“Radio station is meant to become a catalyst for certain processes in the media market of Armenia”, stated Armen Gasparian, senior manager of “Russia Today” (hereafter quoted from “News-Armenia”).

Armen Gasparian believes that “there were no radio stations specializing on news and analysis in Armenia before, or the existing ones were local and did not cover all the processes taking place in the country”. He also adds that “talks about the necessity of helping Armenian colleagues with starting a news radio were in place for quite some time, and the Eurasian space additionally stirs these processes”. Armen Gasparian hopes that “the project will become a trendsetter in Armenian media landscape”.

“Naturally, each country has its geopolitical and strategic interests. Russia and Armenia are bound by century-long friendship. Of course, Armenian interests are on the first place but we will inform also about Moscow’s position on the issues happening here”, said Armen Gasparian.

P.S. Indeed, quality news are in short supply in our broadcast media, however, media telling “about Moscow’s position” are in excess. It is enough to mention the three Russian TV channels aired in open access in Armenia whose news and analysis programs are, mildly speaking, perceived as controversial.

Few months ago, speaking in the Armenian parliament, Dmitry Kiselyov, Director General of “Russia Today”, along with other statements which caused public outrage in Armenia, also claimed that today journalistic principles such as, for example, distinction between facts and comments, have lost relevance. Is that the essence of Eurasian media trends which the new radio project aims to spread?

Back in 1923, Vladimir Mayakovsky in his article “Agitation and Advertising” wrote: “We know very well the power of agitation. Each military victory, each economic success on 9/10 depends on the effectiveness and the strength of our agitation.” The classics is eternal...

October 27 - November 2

On October 30, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan dismissed a defamation lawsuit of 16 NGO representatives versus the founder of “Iravunk” newspaper, “Iravunk Media” LLC, and the newspaper Chief Editor Hovhannes Galajian.

As we have reported, the reason for the class action was the homophobic piece by Hovhannes Galajian “They Serve the Interests of the International Homosexual Lobby: Black List of Enemies of the Nation and the State”, published in “Iravunk” on May 17, 2014. The piece presented the “black list of traitors of the nation” - “lobbyists of homosexuals, aggressively trying to impose their rules in our country”, and contained links to their Facebook pages. The plaintiffs demanded refutation of the defamatory information and compensation for the damage caused by libel and insult in the amount of 5 million AMD (about 9,000 Euros). The court hearings started on August 21. At the same time, during the trial “Iravunk” Chief Editor continued to insult the plaintiffs. The respondent’s lawyer was speaking in the same tone, stating that the author of the piece was expressing his personal opinion, which he, the lawyer, shares (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 20-26, 2014).

On October 30 the Court not only dismissed the lawsuit, but also ruled that plaintiffs have to pay 300,000 AMD (approximately 580 Euros) to reimburse lawyer fees of their opponents.

The court ruling was criticized by the journalistic community, including Armenian media. In particular, Levon Barseghian, Board Chairman of  “Asparez” Journalists’ Club, wrote at his Facebook page: “‘Thanks to’ the court’s decision, from now on we can say whatever we like about the newspaper, its owners or advisors and then claim that it simply was our own opinion. If I follow the same logic, I can say that Ruben Nersisian (Ed. Note: the judge who made the decision) serves the interests of the international homosexual lobby and stress that this is only my personal opinion.”

In the meantime, on October 25, a few days before the court decision was announced, RA President Serzh Sargsian honored the work of “Iravunk” newspaper on their 25th anniversary and awarded the Chair of the newspaper Editorial Board Hayk Babukhanian, who is also MP from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, with Movses Khorenatsi Medal - “for important personal input in the establishment of the newspaper”. Hovhannes Galajian also received a special Medal of Appreciation - “for his input in the establishment of the newspaper, devotion and productive work of many years”.

In the interview to Epress.am one of the plaintiffs, Nvrad Margarian, stressed that the President of Armenia, in fact, awarded “Iravunk” for “hate speech and discrimination”. Nvrad Margarian has also announced their intention to appeal the ruling in a higher court.

Notably, the homophobic piece by “Iravunk” Chief Editor is disputed in two more lawsuits as well, pending before the same Court of General Jurisdiction.

P.S. On October 31, “Iravunk” commented on the court ruling  in the piece titled “Court Dismissed the Lawsuit of the Lobbyists of Homosexuals Against “Iravunk” and Its Chief Editor”: “ (…) The ruling of the court reiterated that moral values are not entirely lost in our country, as there still exists front liners fighting for the traditional family, for the state, for the genuine honor - in the face of “Iravunk”  newspaper, its editor H.Galajian and the CEO of the “Lev Group” law firm Levon Baghdasarian who was representing the interests of the respondent.”

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