On October 14, General Jurisdiction Court of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan rejected the lawsuit filed by businessman Khachik Khachatrian, owner of a major holding “X-Group”, and his enterprise “Yerevan Poultry” company versus the founder of the “Zhoghovurd” daily, “Editorial Office of ‘Zhoghovurd’ Newspaper” LLC, and the daily’s correspondent Sona Grigorian. As we have reported, the plaintiffs litigated an article “Famous Oligarch Fined for Selling Expired Eggs” (“Zhoghovurd”, December 11, 2012), demanding the respondents to publish refutation and to compensate the damage, caused by libel and insult, by 3 million AMD (about $7,300). The hearings of this case started on March 22, 2013.
The lawsuit was rejected on the ground that the facts of libel or insult were not proven in the course of the trial.
It should be mentioned that the same General Jurisdiction Court is also processing another lawsuit, filed by Khachik Khachatrian versus the founder of the “Zhoghovurd” and Sona Grigorian. The matter of the dispute in this lawsuit is the article “‘Zhoghovurd’ Daily Demands Public Apology from Khachik Khachatrian” (“Zhoghovurd”, December 22, 2012). The businessman demanded to oblige the plaintiffs to refute the information, discrediting his honor, dignity and business reputation, as well as to pay him compensation equal to 3,200,000 AMD (about $ 7,600) of which 3 million AMD for the damage caused by libel and insult, and 200,000 AMD for attorney’s fees. The hearings of this case started on March 20, 2013, and are still in progress.
It should also be added that in the above-mentioned December 22, 2012 piece “Zhoghovurd” reported on the businessman’s obscene comment addressed at Sona Grigorian: in a telephone conversation Khachik Khachatrian called the young journalist a “prostitute” in response to “her question not quite desirable for him”, and advised her to publish that word, too. The newspaper, in its turn, filed a lawsuit with the General Jurisdiction Court of the Ajapnyak and Davitashen Administrative Districts of Yerevan versus Khachik Khachatrian, demanding the latter’s public apology. On April 29, 2013, the Court dismissed the lawsuit on the ground that the comment could not be qualified as insult, unless it was public (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 26 – May 2, 2013). The “Zhoghovurd” contested this ruling at higher instance courts; however, both the RA Civil Court of Appeal and the RA Court of Cassation rejected the appeal.
In the September 6 article, entitled “‘Zhoghovurd’ Goes to the RA Constitutional Court Trailing Eggs”, the daily declared about its intention to appeal to the RA Constitutional Court so that “henceforth, it won’t cross the mind of any businessman, oligarch or official to insult a journalist and remain unpunished”. It should be noted that the Armenian legislation does not provide for the protection of citizens, including journalists, from non-public insults: the law establishes liability only for public defamatory statements. Experts believe that the responsibility for non-public insult should be legally regulated (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 6-12, 2013).
In a conversation with YPC the “Zhoghovurd” Editor-in-Chief Taguhi Tovmasian said that the newspaper intended to go to the Constitutional Court to clarify the compliance of some provisions in the RA Civil Code with the Main Law.