YPC Weekly Newsletter
June 23-29

On June 26, international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the actions of the police using violence against journalists.

On June 23, journalists together with several dozens of other people were waiting outside of the Kentron Police Department of Yerevan for the release of activists detained earlier that day for participation in the civil protest action in downtown Yerevan against the forthcoming rise of electricity tariff (27 protesters were detained). Standing in a line, the police began to push back the people. Journalists were among the casualties of the incident. In particular, Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper, was hit in the face then on the leg. Arpi Makhsudian, correspondent of  CivilNet.TV, was also hit while filming with her mobile phone. Paylak Fahradian, “GALA” TV cameraman, was assaulted and his laptop was smashed.

In an interview with EPress.am “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” correspondent described details of the incident, noting that immediately after the incident she went to Yerevan Police to report on crime. According to Ani Gevorgian, she did not remember the policeman who had slapped her in the face, as at that moment she was filming.

 “We firmly condemn the police violence against journalists who were just doing their job in a law-abiding manner. The actions of the police must not be unpunished or else their violent behaviour will recur and could become the norm. The policemen who attacked the journalists must be brought to justice”, stressed Reporters Without Borders in their  statement of June 26.

June 16-22

On June 25, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan is to consider the lawsuit of writer Arpi Voskanian versus the founder of www.1in.am, “Skizb Media Kentron” LLC.

The writer accused 1in.am founder for a breach of copyright. According to Arpi Voskanian, on December 6, 2012, 1in.am reprinted from “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily her poem “Political Riddle”, “without any prior notice, without her consent or any agreement on the size or form of payment”. Moreover, 1in.am published the poem under its own headline, removing the original title and attaching the photo of one of the Armenian politicians. Besides, the news portal announced a song contest on the poem’s lyrics, fixing an award of $ 1,500.

On December 10, 2012, Arpi Voskanian complained about 1in.am to the Media Ethics Observatory (MEO) in order to settle the conflict out of court. Since the complaint touched upon both professional ethics and legal matters, the Media Ethics Observatory examined it jointly with the Information Disputes Council (IDC) at the December 27, 2012 session.

In January 17, 2013 joint expert conclusion MEO and IDC stressed that the reprinting of Arpi Voskanian’s poem by 1in.am, even though made with a reference to the source, but without securing the author’s consent, violates the norms of journalistic ethics. As for the legal aspect of the case, the joint expert conclusion further read that 1in.am had obviously violated the material and non-material rights of Arpi Voskanian. Besides, the announcing of a song contest and monetary award may be considered in some cases as interference to the material interests of the author. The self-regulatory bodies called upon the parties of the conflict to settle the dispute out of court. At the same time, they recommended 1in.am to show willingness to listen to Arpi Voskanian and satisfy her demands, as far as possible. On January 21, 2013, the MEO organized the meeting of Arpi Voskanian with the 1in.am representative (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 18-24, 2013).

“However, I realized that the dispute could only be settled in court, after the editor of 1in.am said that I had to apologize to them”, Arpi Voskanian wrote on her Facebook page.

On March 20, 2014, the writer filed the lawsuit against the 1in.am founder. The lawsuit was accepted on March 21. Arpi Voskanian demanded the respondent to be banned from reprinting the poem and to compensate the damage in the amount of 200,000 AMD (about 360 euros).

June 9-15

Dmitry Kiselyov, Director General of the “Russia Today” news agency, at a meeting at the Armenian parliament delivered a speech which caused wide public outcry in Armenian media and social networks.

Below we present a piece by YPC Review (Armenian language periodical of Yerevan Press Club analyzing the most striking and relevant media topics of the week). The piece titled “Master Class” is a commentary on blitz visit of Dmitry Kiselyov to Yerevan.

All media events of the week faded after the speech of Dmitry Kiselyov, Russian journalist and the Kremlin mouthpiece, during the “discussion” held in the evening of June 11 at the National Assembly of Armenia, under a somewhat ambiguous title “NGOs as a Tool of State Policy”. By the way, Armenian media have already dubbed this speech as “Master Class”.

After the June 11 event at the Armenian parliament all the concerns that Armenian media check their information flow with the Russian filter, became irrelevant. What happened that day was a logical sequel/consequence of the last ten months. Given the Armenian reality, a greater concern for Armenia today is not the Russian filter but the prospect of working in line with the standards of Russian media and presumably under the watchful eye of the giants of Russian journalism.

As Dmitry Kiselyov introduced Armenian parliamentarians and journalists to the Anglo-Saxon propaganda, Russian and US models of world governance, the transformation of the value system in Russia, he also referred to the basics of journalism. Particularly, he said that nowadays journalistic principles like, for example, the distinction facts from comments are no longer valid. In other words, he began teaching Armenians the things which have already been “successfully” practiced during the events in Ukraine.

The highlight of  Kiselyov’s speech, without any doubt, was the “protection of the interests” of the Russian language in Armenia for the sake of the security of the country. The warning to the Armenian society about the danger from NGOs financed by the West, was no less remarkable in this regard. This warning was voiced by Kiselyov’s teammate Veronika Krasheninnikova, Director of the Russian Institute for Foreign Policy Studies and Initiatives, also notoriously famous as the initiator of the controversial law which proclaims such organizations as “foreign agents”.

The conclusion is obvious. The image of Armenia which is desired by nowadays Russia can be summed into three points: a. Russian language as the second official language of Armenia; b. “cleansing” of the civil society (i.e., full or partial elimination of public organizations, up to their absolute decay); c. return to the traditions of Soviet journalism, i.e., propaganda instead of journalism. This prospect provides for abolition of at least few of the fundamental achievements of the past 22 years. Thereafter the total russification will be “a piece of cake”.

Fact and Comment

The mere fact that the “master class” was personally delivered by the main mouthpiece of Kremlin, in a way, is even encouraging. This means that the Armenian journalistic community has managed to learn the standards of international journalism, and even applies them to an extent that this has become visible and annoys Putin’s journalism.

June 2-8

On June 4, Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper, addressed Vahram Shaghinian, the chief of the Special Investigation Service of Armenia, with a request to hold liable an investigator for the criminal case with regard to impeding her professional activities by the law enforcement bodies.

As we have reported, on February 12, Ani Gevorgian and Sargis Gevorgian, cameraman of  iLur.am, were covering a public campaign of the Armenian National Congress in downtown Yerevan. The journalists were arrested and taken to police station where they were held for about four hours. Police officers seized journalists’ cameras and mistreated them. In particular, the head of Kentron Police Department of Yerevan slapped Ani Gevorgian on the face. The journalist turned to Special Investigation Service (SIS) to report the crime. The statement reported three episodes: the attempt by policeman Vardan Gevorgian to forcibly take away the camera from Ani Gevorgian during the public action; the seizure of the memory card from her video camera at the police department; the actions of Artak Poghosian, the head of the Kentron Police Department, who had slapped the journalist on face and seized her phone. On February 25, SIS instigated criminal proceedings under Clause 2 of Article 164 (“Impending the legitimate professional activities of a journalist by an abuse of power on part of a state official”) and by Clause 2 of Article 309 (“Abuse of power, accompanied by violence, use of weapons or special means”) of the RA Criminal Code.

In an interview to Aravot.am Ani Gevorgian noted that during a face-to-face interrogation with the head of Kentron Police Department Artak Poghosian, investigator Arshaluys Minasian while transcribing Artak Poghosian’s answer to the journalist’s question “deliberately distorted the  response ”, “resulting in a completely different meaning of the testimony”. This was revealed when the investigator read out the minutes of interrogation at the journalist’s request. This time Artak Poghosian had to write down his own response to the question of the journalist, however he did not put it as he originally said but the way it was written in the minutes of the investigator. According to Ani Gevorgian, investigator’s actions are “an obvious falsification” and he in fact hinted Artak Poghosian how to answer the question. The journalist reported all these in her complaint addressed to the chief of SIS.

Ani Gevorgian also told Aravot.am that she will not disclose the content of the face-to-face interrogation, given the obligation to keep the confidentiality of the investigation.

Earlier, the correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” complained about investigation of the case, which, according to the journalist, can be solved in a few days, as all the necessary evidence are at the disposal of the investigators. Meanwhile, almost four months have already passed…

May 26 - Junе 1

On May 26, eight journalistic associations, including Yerevan Press Club, issued a statement condemning the offensive behavior of four deputies of the National Assembly of Armenia towards parliamentary journalists.
The parliamentary four-day sittings of May 19-22 were marked by explicitly aggressive and indecent behaviors on behalf of MPs towards journalists, the statement reads.
As we have reported, on May 19, Shushan Petrosian, MP from the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), got infuriated by a question from the correspondent of Armenian Service of Radio Liberty about the May 17 shooting in downtown Yerevan. “All of you are immoral”, the MP told the journalists.
On May 21, Melik Manukian, MP from the “Prosperous Armenia” party, behaved vulgarly with the correspondent of “Hraparak” daily who had inquired about the opinion of the deputy on the program of the new Government, presented at the four-day parliamentary sittings. 
On May 22, another MP from RPA, Mher Sedrakian, used foul language addressing the correspondent of Tert.am who asked him a question. 
On the same day, May 22, MP Araik Grigorian, in drunken condition, behaved indecently with Fnews.am correspondent. 
The journalist NGOs’ statement notes that Shushan Petrosian was the only one among the four MPs who tried to come up with explanations in the media, but the latter turned out to be unconvincing and inadequate to her offensive expression. The other three did not bother to apologize, the authors of the statement wrote, recalling a similar incident involving indecent behavior of Mher Sedrakian in December 2012 in relation to the correspondent of “A1+” TV company.
The media organizations demand:
- The parliamentary factions of RPA and “Prosperous Armenia” to bring  the above-mentioned incidents for discussion and publicly give appropriate assessments;
- The Prosecutor’s Office to consider this statement, as far as Mher Sedrakian’ incident is concerned, as a report on crime, in case Sedrakian does not publicly apologize to Tert.am correspondent.
Media NGOs urged the journalists who had been insulted to file complaints to National Assembly Committee on Ethics. They also called upon the journalistic community of the country to show professional solidarity and to provide moral support to their colleagues, as well as to express their disapproval of indecent behavior of MPs.
The statement was signed by Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Yerevan Press Club, Media Initiatives Center (formerly Internews Armenia), “Asparez” Jornalists’ Club, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, Public Journalism Club, “Journalists for the Future” NGO, Goris Press Club.
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