In late March the General Prosecutor’s Office of Mountainous Karabagh stopped the criminal actions instituted at the end of December 1999 against the Chief Editor of “10th Nahang” weekly Gegham Baghdasarian and the Deputy Chief Editor Ruzan Ishkhanian. “10th Nahang”, the first independent edition in Mountainous Karabagh, was published from November 1999 till April 2000 (see the details in the annual report on journalists’ right violations in year 2000 by the Yerevan Press Club Commission on Protection of Freedom of Speech).
It was only during the television appearance of the MK General Prosecutor Mavrik Ghukasian that the journalists learned about the investigation initiated against them by the General Prosecutor’s Office (further on the General Prosecutor repeatedly mentioned the case on television), the Chief Editor of “10th Nahang” weekly, the President of Stepanakert Press Club Gegham Baghdasarian told the Yerevan Press Club. According to Baghdasarian, the criminal action against him was instituted for insulting the dignity of the MK President. This was prompted by the open address of the Editor to President Arkadiy Ghukasian, published by the newspaper, where it was noted, in particular, that the education, received not in Armenian language, hinders the President to fully comprehend the statements made regarding his person. The Deputy Chief Editor of the weekly, Ruzan Ishkhanian, was incriminated to libel on the authorities. According to Ruzan Ishkhanian, the accusation was based on the interview given to “10th Nahang” by the former Prime Minister of Mountainous Karabagh Zhirair Poghosian. The article titled “The Budget Has No Tongue to Complain or the Law is Violated by the Officials Themselves” quoted the Ex-Prime Minister naming certain high-ranked officials who used the state budget funds for their private purposes.
Although Baghdasarian was summoned to give testimony 6 times, and Ishkhanian – 4 times, all the attempts of journalists to clear up the details about the investigation, in particular, the date of the case transferal to the Court, fell flat. “The General Prosecutor’s Office kept silence. We learned about the discontinuation of the case only after we made our habitual call to the press service of the General Prosecutor’s Office to find out what stage the investigation was in”, Gegham Baghdasarian said. According to Baghdasarian, “such behavior proves that the intention of the authorities was to merely shut down the weekly, and they did succeed in this”.