YPC Weekly Newsletter

2006


VICTIM OF OUTSIDE SHOWDOWN OR POLICY OF AUTHORITIES?

On December 1 “Tigran Mets” publishing house that prints about three dozens
of newspapers informed that the publication of print press will stop since December
6 for indefinite time. The paper shortage was due to the inaction of the Ilyichevsk
(Ukraine)-Poti (Georgia) ferry. As a result, in Ukrainian port hundreds of railway
carriages intended for Armenia gathered, including those with paper for the
press. The threat of publication suspension looming over print media had much
response; the press started proposing various versions.

According to “Golos Armenii” newspaper (December 2, 2006), in the Press Service
of the RA Ministry of Transportation and Communication the existing problem
was explained by the conflict of two Ukrainian organizations, implementing cargo
transport. The newspaper itself supposed that the situation in place “is another
and logical consequence of the tension escalation in relations of Russia and
Georgia”. “Once again we became the victims in the showdown of others” and “in
the long run, it does not really matter whether we are harmed by the Russian-Georgian
or a domestic Ukrainian conflict”.

“At first sight, the problems are purely technical and inevitable”, “Haikakan
Zhamanak” daily writes (December 2, 2006). “But this is true at first sight
only. It has been 20 days only that the problems with the ferry delivery have
come into being. And this means that in the middle of the last month “Tigran
Mets” publishing house did not have paper reserve for even a month (to compare,
“Gind” publishing house, where “Haik”, “Zhamanak-Yerevan”, “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun”,
“Haikakan Zhamanak” and other are printed, at this point has a paper reserve
for at least 2.5 months)”. At the same time, the daily stresses, “the cargos
of interested owners” arrive in Armenia despite all problems, but apparently
the paper for print press is not of this kind. The situation rationale, in the
opinion of “Haikakan Zhamanak”, can be narrated in the following way: “Come
on, it’s just a newspaper, no harm will be made if it fails to be published.
It is the vodka and sausage that should reach destination in time”. “A certain
group of people will certainly lose nothing, moreover, will benefit, if the
newspapers are not published”, “Haikakan Zhamanak” thinks.

“I am not a paranoid (or so I hope) and am not inclined to accuse the government
of intentionally impeding the import of print paper to Armenia to exert pressure
on free media”, the Chief Editor of “Aravot” daily Aram Abrahamian notes (December
2, 2006). “There is no point in seeing politics behind each corner. To do justice,
it should be noted that most pro-governmental newspapers are published by “Tigran
Mets”, and, on the contrary, “Gind” prints very opposition newspapers. I see
politics in another aspect, and it makes me not just accuse, but strongly condemn
the authorities. After the ceasefire in 1994 our authorities were unable to
sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan and resolve the relations with Turkey, as
a result of which a whole country depends on the storm at Black Sea or a shark,
biting off the phone cable in the same sea. The absence of normal relations
with the neighbors and the blockade of the country is the only thing that I
seriously accuse our leadership of, if you want to know. The remaining things
that are often spoken about – theft, emigration, clan oligarchy, anti-democracy,
election fraud and others – are a derivative of this main fault. If there are
civilized relations with the neighbors, there will be a modern political and
economic system, too”.

As “Armenpress” news agency reports (December 4, 2006), on December 3 the cargo
traffic in Ilyichevsk restarted, and on December 6 the print paper intended
for Armenia will depart for Poti. As “Armenpress” was told by the Director of
“Tigran Mets” Vrezh Markosian, the newspapers published by the house will be
printed till December 8, after that their issuance will be suspended until the
paper arrives, as expected, on December 16.

“Golos Armenii” (on December 5, 2006) informed that the RF Minister of Defense
Sergey Ivanov did not exclude the possibility of using the military aviation
to deliver paper for Armenian press.

Meanwhile, the indefinite situation made the press look for alternative solutions.
Thus, according to “Zhamanak-Yerevan” daily (December 5, 2006), “Azg”, “Aravot”,
“Hayots Ashkhar”, “Yerkir” have already addressed “Noyan Tapan” publishing house;
another dozen of newspapers will be temporarily issued by “Gind”.