On May 31, on the day of elections to Yerevan Council of Elderly, at several
polling stations incidents with media representatives occurred. During a press
conference on June 2 the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression presented
the cases of impeding the professional activities of journalists on voting day.
Around 10.30 at the precinct 9/01 of Erebuni community of Yerevan the bodyguards
of RA National Assembly deputy Levon Sargsian evicted the correspondents of
“Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper Gohar Vezirian, “Hayk” daily Tatev Mesropian
and “Zhamanak” daily Marineh Kharatian out of the station, by spouting oaths
and using force. Notably, they hit Gohar Vezirian by feet, and took away the
recorder of Marineh Kharatian. According to the RA Police report, at 10.45 an
alarm about the incident at the polling station was received from “Hayk” daily
Chief Editor Gegham Nazarian. Later, the Police informed that at 14.00 the bodyguard
of RA NA deputy Levon Sargsian has addressed to the Erebuni Police Department
of Yerevan with a notice. The notice stated that “while RA NA deputy L.Sargsian
was voting, the correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper Gohar Vezirian
fell upon them with oaths, thus disturbing the public order”.
Around 15.00 at the precinct 8/01 of Malatia-Sebastia community of Yerevan
part-time correspondent of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily Artur Hovakimian started
taking photos of young men of athletic construction, who, according to him,
were intending to stuff the voting-box with ballot-papers. By noticing this,
the young people took away the photocamera of the journalist and tore off his
neck the journalist identity. To the remark of Hovakimian that he is doing his
work, one of the assaulters answered: “And my work is to crash your head”. The
journalist was obliged to leave the polling station. Later, the camera was returned
to Artur Hovakimian, but yet without the memory stick.
Around 16.20 about 20 young men with their hair shaved close entered the precinct
8/05 of Malatia-Sebastia community. As correspondent of “168 Zham” newspaper
Armineh Avetian informed, six of them started to push back her and Sona Ayvazian,
the observer of Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center, by twisting
their arms. The others surrounded the tables and the ballot-box, and two of
them stuffed the ballots, Armineh Avetian said, noting that they threatened
her and took away the photocamera. Force was also used against the correspondent
of online publication Tert.am, Lilit Tadevosian. According to the journalist,
while she was trying to observe what was going on near the ballot-box, she was
pushed away and prevented from taking photos.
A similar incident with correspondents of “Aravot” daily Lusineh Khachatrian
and Lusineh Shakhbazian took place at the precinct 8/20 of Malatia-Sebastia
community. As “Aravot” daily informed on June 4, 2009, a group of young people
with their hair shaved close entered the polling station and stuffed the ballot-box.
A certain Gevorg, introducing himself as Deputy Chairman of precinct election
commission, tried to throw out the journalists from the polling station, stresses
Around 17.00 at the precinct 13/09 of Erebuni community a quarrel arose between
the Chairman of Precinct Election Commission Zhirayr Ayvazian and the representatives
of Armenian Service of Radio “Free Europe”/Radio “Liberty”.
At first, the Chairman of Precinct Election Commission permitted to take photos
at the polling station, but later he prohibited the shoot of the voters list.
The remark of Radio “Liberty” correspondent that the same lists are
posted up outside, did not take any effect either. A group of young men, gathered
near the polling station, threatened the representatives of Radio “Liberty”
and “A1+” TV company.
Around 17.30 at the precinct 7/25 of Malatia-Sebastia community an assault
was made on the correspondent of “Aravot” daily Nelly Grigorian, who tried to
shoot the squabble between a young man with a nickname “Boko from Noragiugh”
and the proxy of Armenian National Congress. According to Nelly Grigorian, the
young man caught her by the clothes and taking away the photocamera, left the
polling station. The young people who were at the polling station at that moment
ran after him and returned with the camera, but without the memory stick.
The representatives of Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression stressed
that they are also aware of other attempts to impede the professional activities
of journalists, of which they refrain to speak in details, as the cases are
already resolved by the journalists themselves.
The press release of the RA General Prosecutor’s Office, published on June
1, informed about the meeting on which the media articles and the received alarms
about the infringements on the voting day, May 31, were discussed. “An appropriate
prosecutorial control (…) on the procedure of examination of alarms about
infringements during the elections, including the articles of media, is assigned”,
the Prosecutor’s Office emphasized, in particular. The press release also reported
that criminal proceedings were instituted upon media articles on the cases of
attacks against journalists, observers and ballot stuffing at the polling stations
of Malatia-Sebastia community. The investigation of the case is entrusted to
the RA Special Investigative Service. Criminal proceedings on the incident with
the journalist at the polling station 9/01 of Erebuni community are instituted,
too. The investigation is conducted by the Erebuni Police Department of Yerevan.