YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


INCIDENT AT BRUSOV LINGUISTIC UNIVERSITY

On March 13 at Yerevan Brusov State Linguistic University an incident occurred
with the free-lance journalist Gagik Shamshian. In the morning of March 13 the
students of the Linguistic University were holding a protest action nearby the
office of the “Miasin” youth NGO. The action was covered by the media. After
the action the students went back to the University, and the journalists tried
to enter the building with them. University guards stopped the journalists in
the entrance hall. As a result a conflict occurred between Gagik Shamshian and
one of the guards which turned into a brawl. The journalists and the University
employees, present at the place of the incident, pulled apart the fighters.
The Rector of the Linguistic University, Suren Zolyan, who came down to the
entrance hall, asked the journalists to leave the building and answered their
questions about the students’ action in front of the University. After that
interview Gagik Shamshian, who ailed, went to the nearby office of Armenian
Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. At the office Shamshyan’s health
deteriorated, he started bleeding, and the journalist was taken to “Nairi” Medical
Center by the ambulance (which, by the way, arrived only a 40 minutes after
the call). The journalist was hospitalized with a diagnosis of injury of urogenital
tract and internal hemorrhage. Gagik Shamshian was brought to the reanimatology
department, after which he was put under in-patient treatment. On March 19 Gagik
Shamshian left the hospital.

On the day of the incident, on March 13, the Committee to Protect Freedom of
Expression, Yerevan Press Club, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, Internews
Media Support NGO and Transparency International Anticorruption Center released
a statement, which noted, in particular: “Despite the circumstances in which
occurred the conflict between the journalist and the representatives of the
University internal security, the brutality manifested by them cannot be excused.”

RA Human Rights Defender Armen Harutiunian as well as a number of political
and public organizations also condemned the incident.

On March 14, at the administration session of the Yerevan Brusov State Linguistic
University a statement was issued, in which the conduct of Gagik Shamshian was
considered as “cynical and improper to a journalist”. According to the statement,
Gagik Shamshian “penetrated to the University, disturbing the educational process”,
and “the incident occurred when he was performing illegal actions”, as a result
the journalist got physical injuries.

“We are sorry about the incident, but we also consider necessary to note that
it was not a consequence of impeding Gagik Shamshian’s professional activities,
but his hooligan conduct. Defining the guard’s actions as unacceptable, we state
that he should not have yielded to any provocation triggered by G.Shamshian”,
stresses the statement of the University administration.

The administration informed that they had the video recording of the incident,
which could be provided to interested parties if necessary. Besides, the Linguistic
University, the statement says, has addressed a written claim to the law-enforcement
bodies in order to bring the offenders to responsibility.

According to the communication of March 16, 2009 of the RA Police, at Police
of Kentron community of Yerevan a criminal proceeding is instituted on Articles
164 (“Impeding the Legitimate Professional Activities of Journalist”) and 118
(“Beating”) of the RA Criminal Code. In particular, it is noted that the head
of the Yerevan Brusov State Linguistic University security and two guards were
detained and subsequently were released under an obligation not to leave the
place of permanent residence.