On September 12 the Editor of “Iravunk” newspaper Hovhannes Galajian was summoned to give testimony to the Police Division of Arabkir community of Yerevan on the attack on him in the morning of September 6. As it has been reported, Hovhannes Galajian was attacked as he was leaving home: two young men with their heads shaved assaulted the journalist, threw him on the ground and started kicking. Noticing they attract attention of the passers-by, the attackers retired (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 1-7, 2006). As the medical examination showed, Hovhannes Galajian received slight corporal injuries. The Police Division of Arabkir community instituted criminal proceedings on the Article 118 of the RA Criminal Code (“Beating”). The Editor of “Iravunk” relates the incident to his professional activities.
As YPC was told by Hovhannes Galajian, while testifying he named among the possible organizers of the assault the RA Minister of Deference Serzh Sargsian. Referring to the developments after the incident, Hovhannes Galajian said that on the night of September 6-7 he received phone threats from a strange man. And from a cafe, where he was sitting with a colleague, the journalist saw one of the assaulters again on September 8. According to Hovhannes Galajian, he was accompanied by a stranger, made an ostentatious circle around the cafe and left. It should be noted that the suspect composites and verbal descriptions of the assaulters, made by the RA Police criminal experts, were published in “Iravunk” (September 12-14, 2006) and “Haikakan Zhamanak” (September 13, 2006) newspapers.
The attack on Hovhannes Galajian raised a strong outcry from the journalistic community. Thus, the editorial staff of Panorama.am news portal joined the statement of 6 journalistic and human rights organizations, including Yerevan Press Club, released on September 7 and published by a number of print media and disseminated by several news agencies (see the text of the statement in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 1-7, 2006). The editorial staff of “Yerkir” weekly (the organ of ARF “Dashnaktsutiun” Armenian Supreme Body) in its issue of September 8, on its behalf, condemned the attack on Hovhannes Galajian and demanded that law enforcement bodies take measure to reveal and punish the perpetrators.
Similar demand was made by a number of political parties of the country. In the statement of September 8, directed to the RA General Prosecutor’s Office, the Youth Union of “Orinats Yerkir” party recalled many other incidents with journalists, qualifying the case of Hovhannes Galajian to be the result of “unsatisfactory steps of appropriate state bodies, as taken to reveal the authors and organizers of similar acts of violence in the past”. As the parliamentary elections draw nearer, the signatories stressed, we are “witnessing new wave of violence and threats to journalists”. “We are positive that the climate, in which the upcoming national elections are to be held, will significantly depend on to what extent can the state institutes protect the public and political life and democratic institutes of the country from the infringements and violence by criminal elements”, the statement of “Orinats Yerkir” Youth Union said. The statement was joined by the youth organizations of over 10 political parties (National Democratic Union, “Dashnaktsutiun”, Armenian National Movement, “Hanrapetutiun”, Democratic Party of Armenia, etc.) The young party members expressed solidarity and readiness to assist the journalistic community.
“168 Zham” newspaper (September 9-11, 2006) published the opinion of the RA Robert Kocharian, voiced by the President’s spokesman Viktor Soghomonian. Noting that the incident with Hovhannes Galajian deserves strict condemnation, the President expressed his confidence that “the law enforcement bodies will do everything possible to reveal and prosecute those guilty”. “At the same time for three days already confident opinions are expressed that the reason for violence were the recent articles by Galajian on the representatives of authorities. I think, one must wait for the end of the investigation before making improper conclusions. The image of the journalist, persecuted by authorities, is certainly lucrative, and there is nothing easier that to place the responsibility for violence on the authorities. One must also remember that both “Iravunk” and Mr. Galajian personally have been criticizing the authorities for many days and years, also in very tense political situations, unlike these days. However, I cannot remember other cases of violence against Galajian in the past. In any case, I shall repeat, the violence committed against the journalist must be strongly condemned. But the answers to all questions will be given by the investigation, including the question of whether the incident was related to the professional activities of Galajian”, the piece of “168 Zham” said.