YPC Weekly Newsletter

2004


VIOLENCE REPEATED

On April 12 in Yerevan, the procession and rally organized by opposition forces near RA National Assembly ended up in violence. The rally participants demanded negotiations with Speaker of Parliament, Head of RA Police, as well as live TV broadcasting for opposition leaders and live reports of the event. Most probably, this demand provoked heavy guarding of the TV companies buildings by the police in the capital that day.

At about 00:30, street lights went off on Baghramian Avenue, and at about 2 am, the picket was dispersed by police units using special devices – water jets, explosive bags, rubber bludgeons, electroshock.

In the official April 13 statement of RA Police, the actions of the rally participants were qualified as illegal, aggressive and uncontrollable, presenting real threat to life and health of police and the citizens. It induced law and order bodies to use physical force and special devices against them in accordance with RA Law “On Police”. The police declared about initiating criminal proceedings for organization of these public disturbances.

Among the victims (according to official data, medical care was provided to 30 people), again were journalists similarly to the meeting of opposition deputies with the voters a week ago (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 2-8, 2004). The evidence of the journalists, as well as their colleagues on the spot contradict the official version of the events on early morning of April 13: picket participants were not aggressive, "some of them even settled for the night", therefore it may be viewed as an action planned by the authorities.

That night “Haikakan Zhamanak” daily correspondents Haik Gevorgian and Avetis Babajanian, as well as cameraman of Russian ORT TV in Armenia Levon Grigorian and “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper correspondent Mher Ghalechian were beaten while on duty.

According to “Haikakan Zhamanak” correspondent Haik Gevorgian, Deputy Head of RA Police Hovhannes Varian (who, by the way, controlled the forces keeping law and order during the April 5 rally) personally took his photo camera away, whereas the policemen nearby started beating the journalist with their bludgeons and feet. Afterwards, Haik Gevorgian was transported to the police department of Nor Nork community, and later to one of Yerevan hospitals. At present, Gevorgian receives treatment at home.

Avetis Babajanian was not as seriously injured as his colleague and was also taken to the same police department.

ORT cameraman Levon Grigorian’s story was that civilians approached him and tried to take the camera away (later the damaged expensive equipment was discovered at police press service). These persons dragged the resisting journalist to the group of special forces who started beating him with batons using electroshock. It is only in an ambulance that Levon Grigorian recovered consciousness.

“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” correspondent Mher Ghalechian was exposed to violence at about 3 am, when the journalist, on the instructions of the editorial office, investigated into the data on the search at opposition “Republic” Party headquarters. According to Ghalechian, he was about to leave after taking pictures when he was assaulted by four representatives of special forces. He was beaten, and later taken to the police department of Erebuni community where he was detained for 16 hours.

During the raid to the headquarters of another opposition party – Popular Party of Armenia – its press secretary Ruzan Khachatrian was arrested. The law and order bodies broke open the door of her private office and escorted her with beating to the police department of Center community. On April 14, Ruzan Khachatrian was released.