YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


OSCE REPRESENTATIVE ON FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA CONCERNED ABOUT THE INCIDENTS WITH ARMENIAN MEDIA

On December 24, 2007 the cameraman of “GALA” TV company Grigor Shaghoyan challenged
with the RA General Prosecutor’s Office the resolution of the investigative
department of Shirak Region of the Chief Investigative Department of the RA
Police about the discontinuation of the investigation on impeding the legitimate
professional activities of the journalist.

As it has been reported, on October 22 the owner of “CHAP” LLC, founding company
of “GALA”, Vahan Khachatrian issued a statement regarding the attempts of various
power agencies to exert pressure on the TV channel. The document stressed the
infallibility of the TV channel’s stance and the readiness to prevent any attempt
of intervention into its editorial policy. One week after the statement a tax
audit started at “CHAP”, after which the RA State Tax Service reported the violations
revealed. In particular, this referred to concealed amounts of TV advertising
and illegal use of the city tower owned by the Gyumri municipality. The Gyumri
Tax Inspection and the city administration filed respective suits, and the RA
Commercial Court started hearing both suits. The process of the tax audit itself
was covered by “GALA” TV company. On November 6 an incident occurred between
the TV company cameraman Grigor Shaghoyan and a representative of the RA State
Tax Service. The latter attacked the cameraman, took him by the throat and tried
to take the camera away. On the same day Grigor Shaghoyan addressed the Gyumri
Police Department with an appeal of his legitimate professional activities being
impeded. On December 12 the Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Ambassador Sergey
Kapinos addressed a letter to the Head of the RA Police Haik Harutiunian, the
Head of the Gyumri Police Department Hakob Ghevondian and the Governor of Shirak
region Lidia Nanian, requesting to inform the OSCE Office whether a criminal
case had been filed on the incident. The Ambassador also stressed the need for
proper investigation into the matter. On December 18 Grigor Shaghoyan was notified
that criminal proceedings will not be instituted due to absence of corpus delicti
(see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, December
14-20, 2007
).

On December 21 the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti
announced he was concerned that “GALA” TV company may cease broadcasting as
a result of pressure by authorities. “The recent cases of harassment and violence
against independent and opposition media have contributed to an atmosphere of
intimidation and fear in the journalistic community of Armenia”, said the letter
of Miklos Haraszti to the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanian.
In his letter Miklos Haraszti expressed hope that “the local authorities will
not make arbitrary decisions and demonstrate goodwill for a compromise settlement,
so that ‘GALA’ TV can continue broadcasting”.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media also expressed his concern
regarding the explosion at the entrance of “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper
that occurred in the early morning of December 13 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter,
December 7-13, 2007). “I
urge Armenia’s law enforcement bodies to punish the perpetrators not just for
the sake of justice, but also to give support to freedom of expression in the
country”, Miklos Haraszti stated, expressing hope that the Government of Armenia
will fulfill its OSCE commitments to ensure safe and favorable working conditions
for the media, so that the media can contribute to a fair election campaign.