YPC Weekly Newsletter

2003


THE ASSASSINATION OF TIGRAN NAGHDALIAN MUST UNITE THE PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY IN THE RESOLVE TO PUT AN END TO VIOLENCE TOWARDS JOURNALISTS

On the evening of December 28, 2002 the well-known journalist, the Chairman of Council of Public TV and Radio Company of Armenia, one of the founders of Yerevan Press Club Tigran Naghdalian was assassinated. According to the reports of investigative bodies, the assassin made one shot at the head of Naghdalian with a TT gun, when the journalist was leaving the entrance of his parents’ house in Yerevan. At about 19.30 the injured 36-year-old journalist was brought to one of the city hospitals, however, the doctors were unable to save his life.

On the same day the RA President Robert Kocharian made a statement, condemning the murder of the journalist, qualifying it "as a vile display of terrorism". "Encroaching on the greatest of the values, the human life, the terrorists were aiming to stab the backs of those who, by their daily work, aspire for a peaceful, stable and prospering motherland", the statement says, in particular.

Statements and addresses of condolence were made also by the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Speaker of the National Assembly Armen Khachatrian, the Prime Minister Andranik Margarian, Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II, a number of parties and politicians. At the funeral of the journalist, the RA Defense Minister Serge Sargsian, heading the governmental commission on the organization of the funeral, announced: "The law and order bodies of Armenia will do everything to disclose this vile assassination."

The Investigative Department of the RA General Prosecutor’s Office instituted criminal proceedings on the fact of the assassination, according to Articles 61 and 232, s. 1 of the RA Criminal Code – terrorist attack and illegal storage, carriage and use of arms and ammunition. The General Prosecutor’s Office addressed the public requesting assistance to the investigation of the crime, contacting the Head of Investigative Department Andranik Mirzoyan or calling (374 1) 58 24 74; 58 32 14, should there be relevant information. The General Prosecutor’s Office promised a reward of 0 thousand to those who will help in the disclosure of the crime, search for people who ordered and implemented it.

The public, including the politicians and journalists, propose various versions of the assassination. While the media do have preferences for some of them, the investigation materials known to this day do not allow to accept any of hypotheses discussed as real.

The statement of Yerevan Press Club, released on December 29, emphasizes that year 2002, ending with a cynical murder of the head of a leading Armenian medium, was unrivaled in the history of independent Armenia with regard to violence towards journalists. "We hope and will do everything in our power for the journalistic community today to be united not only by the grief, but also the resolve to put an end to violence. We are to unite, regardless the political affiliations, to protect our rights and freedoms", YPC appealed (see the Special Issue of YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 29, 2002).

Statements and condolences with regard to the tragic death of Tigran Naghdalian were voiced not only by Armenian, but also foreign professional associations. The address of the International Confederation of Journalists Unions says the death of Tigran Naghdalian was a huge loss for both the Armenian journalistic profession and the journalistic community worldwide. A hope is expressed that "the administration of the country and the law and order bodies will find those who ordered and executed this cynical murder". The statement of Baku Press Club, whose representatives had repeatedly met Naghdalian at various regional events, says: "He always strove for mutual understanding, tolerance, advocated the principles of freedom of expression and press. (…) Terror against journalists must be strongly condemned by everyone, everywhere and every time. The murder of a journalist is a barbaric act, a symptom of a most dangerous disease, which, if developing, can plunge the whole society into fear and silence." The President of the Association of Diplomatic Correspondents of Turkey Yusuf Kanli on behalf of his organization condemned "this cynical murder and cowardly attack", mourning "the tragic death of our distinguished colleague Tigran Naghdalian". " We also would like to express at this sad moment once again our solidarity with our colleagues in Armenia", the address says.

On January 8, 2003 the statement of Secretary General of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer was published, who strongly condemned the assassination of "one of the most prominent journalists in Armenia" and qualified it as "not only a crime against that person, but an attack on freedom of the media": "Armenian Public TV and radio are destined to play a crucial role in the democratic life of the country, especially in covering the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections." Paying particular tribute to Tigran Naghdalian’s efforts to reform public broadcasting in Armenia in the line with European standards, and calling on everybody concerned to continue his work in the same open-minded spirit, the head of CE stressed: "This appalling and senseless act should not be allowed to disrupt the democratic process in Armenia. I call on the competent Armenian authorities to conduct a through and transparent investigation in order to bring those responsible to justice."