Recently, the authorities of Armenia have become extremely attentive towards the radically opposition weekly “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun”.
Yerevan Press Club has already reported that in late March the newspaper was deprived of its property (see the details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 7-13, 2001). In particular, on 28 March 2001, officers of the Interior Ministry of Armenia seized the equipment of "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" weekly, founded and published by "Ogostos" independent press-distribution agency. The officials claimed that the equipment used by "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" since 1996 was a property of the Ministry.
On 10 May the Editor-in-Chief of "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun", President of women’s "Shamiram" party Shogher Matevosian was summoned to the office of the Military Prosecutor. She was interrogated over several recent publications containing criticism of authorities’ handling of terrorist attack on the Parliament on 27 October, 1999, which had killed the prime minister, the speaker of the Parliament and 6 other high officials. The prosecutors have demanded to reveal the authors of the publications.
On 16 May at 5 p.m. the tax inspection began a check-up of "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun’s" founder and publisher "Ogostos" agency’s activities without a written order of the Minister of State Revenues, required by the RA Law “On the Procedure and Conductance of Auditing at the Organizations Operating in the Republic of Armenia” (Articles 2 and 3). During the check-up, the representatives of the tax inspection seized a large amount of documents of the agency. They also forced the Executive Director of the agency to sign a declaration about agency’s activities, taken down from their dictation. None of the seized documents has been returned yet.
The official order for the check-up, signed by the Minister of the State Revenues as required by Law, was issued only on May 18. Accordingly, the tax inspection had the right to start a check-up only on May 23. The check-ups, conducted before May 23, have been presented by the tax inspection as “visit”.
The Law does not provide for any “visits” or check-ups under that name. To justify their actions the Ministry of State Revenues issued a statement (published in the "Aravot" daily on May 19) saying “what concerns the fact that the Law does not provide for such visits, then what is not prohibited by law is allowed”. Meanwhile, Article 5 of the Armenian Constitution stipulates that state bodies and officials are competent to perform only those activities for which they are authorized by legislation.
All the facts above are cited by the statement made by "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" weekly on May 21. The statement also mentions: "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" weekly is highly critical of the President Kocharian and the government and corrupted officials.”