On April 16 “Haikakan Zhamanak” daily published “The Notification on the Crime Committed”, sent on the previous day, April 15, by the Chief Editor of the publication Nikol Pashinian to the RA General Prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepian. The letter tells about the beating of “Haikakan Zhamanak” correspondent Haik Gevorgian during the opposition rally in the early morning of April 13 (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 9-15, 2004). In the opinion of the newspaper, the Deputy Head of RA Police Hovhannes Varian is guilty of committing the crime.
Proceeding from the narration of the events of the night by Haik Gevorgian and basing on the fact of physical and moral damage incurred by the journalist, the daily solicits to institute criminal proceedings against Hovhannes Varian by Articles 164 (“Impeding the legitimate professional activity of journalist”) and 309 (“Exceeding the official authority") of the RA Criminal Code and bringing him to account.
On April 16 a similar address but referring to the Head of the Police of Center Community of Yerevan Hovhannes Tamamian was filed with the General Prosecutor by the correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper Mher Galechian, beaten and arrested in the early morning of April 13. In the piece “How It Happened”, published on April 15 in “Haikakan Zhamanak”, the journalist gave a detailed description of the act of violence and his illegal detainment. In the letter to the General Prosecutor Mher Galechian mentioned that the people who attacked him took his bag containing a recorder, photo camera, owned by “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” Editor, 300 thousand drams, the round seal of “Ogostos” press dissemination agency and documentations of the public organization “Shamiram”. According to the journalist, when he was released from the cell of preliminary detainment where he had spent 16 hours, the bag was not returned to him. Galechian demanded to hold Hovhannes Tamamian accountable for impeding with the exercise of a professional activity by the journalist, for illegal detainment and for appropriation of his property.
It should be noted that the RA Criminal Procedure Code has a clause according to which the media reports about crimes committed are a ground to institute criminal proceedings (Article 176, Cl. 2). At the same time Clause 1 of Article 180 stipulates that the crime reports must be considered and resolved without delay, and should it be deemed necessary, the legitimacy and sufficiency of grounds should be verified – within 10 days since the receipt of the report.
Meanwhile, on April 20 in a number of Armenian media the statements of Hovhannes Varian and Hovhannes Tamamian were published, in which they deny being involved in illegal actions against journalists.
As a response to the statement of Hovhannes Varian, “Haikakan Zhamanak” in the issue of April 21 places the half- and full-faced photos of the Deputy Head of Police. The editorial comment mentions that these are the photos of “a dangerous criminal”, who, as it appears, “has endowed himself with the authority of the Deputy Head of the RA Police and likes to introduce himself as Hovhannes Varian”. This man, as the newspaper writes, took the editorial camera of Haik Gevorgian and ordered “the criminals with batons that accompanied him” to beat the journalist. The edition addresses the law enforcement bodies to identify the person in the photos who “introduces himself as the Deputy Head of the RA Police Hovhannes Varian”.