On June 4 the court of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities
of Yerevan selected arrest as a preventive punishment of Theresa Asatrian, an
employee of press-center of the Union of Armenian Writers, member of the Journalists
Union of Armenia.
According to the June 2 press release of the Public Relations and Information
Department of the RA General Prosecutor’s Office, Theresa Asatrian was detained
on June 1, and on May 30 the Investigative Department of the General Prosecutor’s
Office instituted criminal proceedings against her on clause 2 part 2 of Article
34-178 (“Attempt of cheating”) and on clause 1 part 3 of Article 38-312
(“Involvement in bribing”) of the RA Criminal Code. On May 17, 2005, the press
release of the General Prosecutor’s Office informs, Theresa Asatrian by deception
and confidence abuse extorted $ 3,500 from a notary of Vanadzor notary region
Arusiak Azarian. As noted further, Theresa Asatrian provoked the notary to give
a bribe of the amount noted allegedly to prevent the submission to the court
of the materials against the notary gathered by the RA National Security Service,
and the publication of a revelatory article written by the journalist herself.
“Under this pretext, on May 17, 2005 Theresa Asatrian received from Arusiak
Azarian $ 1,000, and she did not get the remaining $ 2,500 for reasons beyond
her control”, the General Prosecutor’s Office reports.
The detainment of the journalist was broadly covered by Armenian media which,
basically, each in its own way, described the details of the meeting of Theresa
Asatrian and Arusiak Azarian.
Armineh Ohanian, in her article “Accused of Cheating” (“Haikakan Zhamanak”
daily, June 3, 2005) writes that on May 30 she received an unexpected telephone
call from Theresa Asatrian, who said she had prepared an article on Vanadzor
notary Arusiak Azarian, which she would like to have published in the daily.
The lengthy article by Theresa Asatrian given to “Haikakan Zhamanak” told, in
particular, about the possible involvement of Arusiak Azarian in several questionable
deals, as well as, to a certain extent, to the murder in Vanadzor – in summer
2005 – of a major criminal nicknamed Goga (Gevorg Arakelian, “Aravot” daily
specified on June 3, 2005, quoting the same version). When describing the situation,
“Haikakan Zhamanak” notes that so far it is unclear, whether the law enforcement
bodies possess weighty proofs of the guilt of Theresa Asatrian (apart from the
statement and the testimony of the notary). The publication promised to follow
the developments and to inform the public, since “the defendant is a journalist,
and we know numerous cases when attempts to restrict freedom of expression were
disguised as criminal proceedings, and the time will show whether it is the
same case or we are dealing with a completely different reality”.