On May 17 “Haikakan Zhamanak” daily, one of the few editions that are in radical opposition to the authorities of Armenia, was not issued. As Yerevan Press Club was told by the Editor-in-Chief of the daily Nikol Pashinian, the previous evening he was called by “Gind” private publishing house and told that the current issue will not be published because of the debts the editorial office had to the publisher (about 700 thousand drams, or $1,300). Pashinian noted that only a few months ago the debt of the edition amounted to 2.5 million drams. At that time it was arranged that “Haikakan Zhamanak” would be repaying its debt part by part, and this schedule was realized. By June 1, as Pashinian said, the debt would have been completely repaid, especially considering the fact that the press dissemination agencies owe about 7 million drams to the daily.
The Editor-in-Chief also noted that, according to the agreement signed between the daily and “Gind”, the publisher had to giver the newspaper a month’s notice prior to the discontinuation of the publication. Pashinian is however concerned about another circumstance: even after he offered to repay the debt completely to prevent the stoppage of publication, the printing house refused, referring this time to paper lack. “I even expressed my willingness to solve this problem as well, yet the “Gind” management was uncompromising. Now I need to make out what exactly is taking place, is it truly a financial problem or there is another, more serious reason for the reluctance to publish our newspaper?” Pashinian said.
On his behalf the Director of “Gind” publishing house Karen Avetian in reply to the request of Yerevan Press Club to clear up the situation announced that he is not subject to any political influence and that his enterprise is a privately owned business. “From this point of view the publication of “Haikakan Zhamanak”, with its circulation being relatively high, is profitable. But it will be profitable only if the edition pays for the publishing services consumed in due time”, stressed Mr. Avetian. Nikol Pashinian did not meet his obligations in time. In the conditions of paper deficiency we decided to publish only those editions that are conscientious in repaying the services provided. So the reasons for discontinuing to publish “Haikakan Zhamanak” are purely financial”, concluded the Director.
Whatever the true reasons for the incident are, it has already got into the focus of the attention of media and international organizations. This is mostly due to the fact that the private publishing house “Gind” was established with the support of Eurasia Foundation to eliminate the monopoly of “Tigran Mets” printing house on production of print editions (“Tigran Mets” is the former publishing house of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia, later it was transferred into the competence of the RA Government, and currently is partly privatized). The main purpose of the Eurasia Foundation project was the elimination or at least minimization of possibilities for exercising financial and economic pressure on media.