YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


CAR OF “ASPAREZ” JOURNALIST’S CLUB PRESIDENT SET ON FIRE

In Gyumri in the early morning of March 21, 2008, at 01.05 the Opel Vectra
car owned by the President of “Asparez” Journalist’s Club of Gyumri Nadezhda
Hakobian was set on fire. At the time the car was being used by the Chairman
of the Club Board Levon Barseghian. According to Levon Barseghian, the arson
was committed after he had returned to “Asparez” office from “GALA” TV company.
He and the two nightmen saw two men fleeing away from the car ablaze, one wearing
a cream-colored jacket, the other – a black one. By a preliminary estimate,
the damage caused amounts to 900,000 AMD (around $ 3,000). On March 21 the investigation
department of the Police of Shirak region instituted criminal proceedings by
Article 185 of the RA Criminal Code (“Intentional destruction or damage
of property”). On his behalf Levon Barseghian promised to award two similar
cars to the police division that will disclose the crime.

On March 21 a number of public, also journalistic, organizations and media
made statement, saying, in particular:

“Levon Barseghian is sure that this incident is directly related to his
efforts to protect “GALA” TV and the strict criticism of authorities voiced
by him on that and a number of other occasions, as well as the number of threatening
phone calls addressed to him and the Club, and the arson attempt of “Asparez”
office on the morning of January 19, 2008.

Let us also remind that on February 25, 2008 the Gyumri Mayor publicly insulted
and threatened “GALA” TV and “Asparez” Club, stating, that “in our city there
are a couple of sections that disgust people. This is the “GALA section” and
“Asparez section” (…), let them come to their senses, too”. “Asparez” appealed
to the local police to file a criminal case against the Mayor for insulting,
libeling and threatening, but was refused “due to lack of corpus delicti”.

We state that this assault in Gyumri against the independent journalistic organization
is the direct consequence, from one side, of banning any form of dissent, political
persecutions, hindering the work of opposition and independent organizations
and media, from the other – preferential permissiveness of persons and bodies
amiable to the authorities. The unprecedented activity of citizens in support
of the freedom of speech and “GALA” TV under such conditions has probably caused
the dislike of some persons and especially the Gyumri Mayor, who on March 20
urged the citizens not to support “GALA” speaking on another TV channel in Gyumri.

We strictly condemn this illicit act against our colleagues, and as none of
the attacks against “Asparez” has been so far disclosed by Gyumri law enforcement
bodies, and this failure has made the criminals further unrestrained, we demand
that investigation of all these incidents should be conducted by national law-enforcement
bodies. ” The statement was signed by Yerevan Press Club, the Committee
to Protect Freedom of Expression, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, “Internews”
Media Support NGO, Transparency International Anticorruption Center, “ArmInfo”
news agency, “Antenna” NGO, Radio “Van”, Vanadzor Press Club, Vanadzor Office
of Helsinki Citizen Assembly, “Haikakan Zhamanak” daily, Freedom of Information
Center of Armenia, “Zhamanak-Yerevan” daily, journalist Marina Grigorian, Goris
Press Club.