YPC Weekly Newsletter

2013


SUIT OF GURGEN AGHAJANIAN VERSUS “ZHOGHOVURD” DAILY’S FOUNDER REVOKED

On March 19, Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan made a ruling on the suit of Gurgen Aghajanian versus the founder of “Zhoghovurd” daily, “Editorial Office of ‘Zhoghovurd’ Newspaper” LLC. The hearings on the suit started on February 9, 2012. Gurgen Aghajanian contested the article "Galust’s Son Is Required To", published by “Zhoghovurd” on August 9, 2011. The piece started with the words: “‘Zhoghovurd’ received a letter from Gurgen Aghajanian (…)”. It further noted that on August 6 the daily received a letter in an envelope indicating the sender’s name, Gurgen Aghajanian. The letter was sent as a receipt notification, where the return address was that of the Department of the State Property Management of the RA Government. At the same time, the letter was not signed. It told about the abuse of office by Karineh Kirakosian, ex-Head of the State Property Management Department, member of Council of Republican Party of Armenia, and by Ashot Markosian, the former Deputy Head of Department. In the article “Zhoghovurd” also brought the comments of Karineh Kirakosian, who assumed that the information provided in the letter is untrue and Gurgen Aghajanian had written it as a revenge for his dismissal of years ago. On August 10, the next day after the publication of the article, Gurgen Aghajanian announced that he had not written any letters and demanded to publish his refutation. “Zhoghovurd” denied publishing it since the text was not but a self-praise of Gurgen Aghajanian and could not be considered as a proper refutation. On August 29, 2011, the court took into consideration Gurgen Aghajanian’s lawsuit (Karine Kirakosian and Ashot Markosian were involved as third parties in the case). The plaintiff demanded from “Zhoghovurd” a refutation and financial compensation in the amount of 804,000 AMD or $ 2,000 (for details see Yerevan Press Club Report “On Freedom of Speech in Armenia” in 2011). In its February 8, 2012 opinion the Information Disputes Council, specifically, stressed that from a legal perspective the daily had the right to publish the content of the controversial letter. However, from a professional ethics perspective it would have been preferable to publish the letter without mentioning the name of the author or make a reserve that the daily was not sure who the real author was, because it was not possible to verify the sender’s identity. Because this was not done, after publishing the article the daily should have granted Gurgen Aghajanian with a chance for a refutation or a response, as much as it regards the author of the letter, the IDC noted (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 10-16, 2012).

At the session of March 19, the court revoked the suit of Gurgen Aghajanian as ungrounded.