On February 8 at 20.15 in the center of Yerevan a Nissan X-Terra caught fire.
The car was owned by Ara Saghatelian, the Chair of Editorial Board of “Im Iravunk”
newspaper and Panorama.am news portal, and the President of Armenian PR Association
(the spokesman of the RA Ministry of Justice in 2001-2006). The arson was committed
in the yard of the editorial office, 6-7 minutes after Ara Saghatelian arrived
there. As journalist himself told YPC, a bottle with petrol spilling from it
was found on the car roof; two other empty bottles lay nearby.
Ara Saghatelian linked the incident with his journalistic activities. The statement
of the Board of Armenian PR Association, released on February 9, qualified “the
attempts to influence freedom of speech and press, particularly, through such
criminal methods” as “unacceptable and condemnable”.
The investigation on the ignition of Ara Saghatelian’s car is made by the RA
Police Erebuni Division.
YPC Comment: This is already the eighth case when
the cars of journalists were damaged. In the early morning of May 17, 2001 in
Yerevan the car of a well-known Bulgarian TV journalist, the author of a number
of documentaries on Karabagh war Tsvetana Paskaleva was burglarized – the offenders
broke the window glass, tore out the walkie-talkie and threw it on the car floor,
not touching, however, neither the personal belongings of Paskaleva, nor the
documents and video tapes. On June 26, 2001 in Yerevan the bus-workshop of freelance
journalist Vahagn Ghukasian was set on fire. On November 22, 2004 in Yerevan
the car, owned by “Haikakan Zhamanak” daily and used by its Chief Editor Nikol
Pashinian, was burned. In the morning of April 1 in Goris (Syunik region) the
car of the Chief Editor of “Syunyats Yerkir” newspaper Samvel Alexanian
ignited. In the morning of May 16, 2006 in Vanadzor (Lori region) the car of
the Executive Director of “Lori” TV company Narineh Avetisian was
stoned. The Toyota-Prado of a football commenter, the founder of “Football Plus”
weekly Suren Baghdasarian was burned twice: first on February 7, 2006 (the damage
was possible to repair), second – in the morning of January 30, 2007 (with only
a skeleton remaining from the car). In all eight cases the journalists linked
what happened to them to their professional activities. In none of the incidents
offenders were found or are not yet found.