YPC Weekly Newsletter

2006


RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES OBSTRUCTED THE WORK OF “GOLOS ARMENII” OBSERVER

On October 14 “Golos Armenii” newspaper published an article by its Economy
Observer Ashot Aramian titled “Under a Cap. How ‘Golos’ Journalist Found Himself
Under Total Control of Intelligence”. The article was due to the prohibition
on Ashot Aramian’s crossing the borders of Armenia. The journalist learned about
this unexpectedly, during a passport control at “Bagratashen” border check-point
as he was heading to Tbilisi on business. The Armenian border guards, subordinated
to the RA National Security Service, informed the journalist that the prohibition
signal was produced by the “Border Management” information system.

“Trying to explain the occurrence – to myself first of all, I had only one
conjecture. Some time ago ‘Golos Armenii’ published a big series of critical
articles on the various violations in the military and economic activity of
the Russian border troops in Armenia, so the relations with the Border Guard
Division of RF Federal Security Service in Armenia were truly quite tense for
a long time”, Ashot Aramian writes in ”Under a Cap“ article. As Ashot Aramian
told YPC, since December 2003 till February 2006 on “Golos Armenii” pages this
subject was covered in over 30 pieces. The result of the criticism was that
on February 22, 2006 the Border Guard Division of RF Federal Security Service
in Armenia at a check- point of “Zvartnots” airport imposed an “entry and exit
control” on Ashot Aramian and the Chief Editor of “Golos Armenii” Flora Nakhshkarian:
the head and the Economy Observer of the newspaper could now only cross the
air border of Armenia with the permission of the check-point head. (It should
be noted here that according to an interstate agreement the Armenian borders
are guarded by a joint effort of Armenia and Russia and until recently at certain
check-points the passport control was implemented by Russian border troops.)
“Getting in contact with the administration of the Border Guard Division of
the RF FSS in RA and threatening to raise much noise, we induced them to remove
the control. At least, we were officially informed about its removal”, the “Under
a Cap” piece goes on saying.

As to the incident on the border of Armenia and Georgia, as Ashot Aramian was
assured by the Press Secretary of the Border Guard Division of the RF FSS in
Armenia Vladimir Karapetian, the Russian border troops have nothing to do with
it and the issue is to be settled with the RA National Security Service, in
charge of guarding the state border with Georgia.

On October 10 the newspaper editorial office received a reply to its inquiry
from the Director of the RA National Security Service Gorik Hakobian that said
in particular: “The investigation of the case revealed that the data of Ashot
Aramian were entered into the data base on the initiative of the Border Guard
Division of the RF FSS in RA with no legitimate reasons. Presently A. Aramian
has been removed from the record of “Border Management” system. We notified
of the fact the First Deputy Director of RF FSS, the Head of the Border Guards
General V.E. Pronichev to prevent such situations from repeating.”

Meanwhile, “Golos Armenii” doubted that this would be the end of the story,
qualifying the occurrence as an “outrageous fact of persecution of journalist
by the intelligence services of another state for his professional activity,
obstructing it”: “If this proved to be possible in the case of a journalist
working for an influential Armenian newspaper, what can happen to ordinary citizens,
who, not being criminals, are for some reason entered into the database of the
intelligence service? Notably, with no sanctioning by the General Prosecutor’s
Office or the Police.”

“In our case it is a matter of trivial and brutal deformity that cannot even
be concealed by anti-terrorism rhetoric. Actually, have the Russian Generals
been targeting the right enemies recently?” Ashot Aramian asks in conclusion
of “Under a Cap” article.