YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


“Armenian-Turkish Team Reporting Project”

FINAL CONFERENCE ON ARMENIAN-TURKISH TEAM PROJECT

On July 10-11 in “Residence Aygedzor” hotel of Yerevan the final conference on Armenian-Turkish team reporting project was held. The project was implemented by Yerevan Press Club in 2007-2009 with the support of Eurasia Partnership Foundation. The goal of the project was the mutual visits of Armenian and Turkish journalists to neighboring countries to prepare articles on Armenian-Turkish relations.

The speech of Country Director of Eurasia Partnership Foundation Gevorg Ter-Gabrielian dealt with the Armenian-Turkish relations and the perspectives for regional development. Head of Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation Stepan Grigorian told about the reflection on development of Armenian-Turkish relations by political circles and expert community of Armenia. Correspondent of “Hurriyet” Turkish daily Vercihan Ziflioghlu presented the results of comparative analysis of the publications by Armenian and Turkish press. Diplomatic News Editor of “Today’s Zaman” Turkish newspaper Yonca Dogan spoke about the approach of “Zaman” and “Hurriyet” Turkish dailies on the Armenian-Turkish border opening issue and related subjects. Free lance journalist Tsovinar Nazarian referred to the media coverage of Armenian-Turkish civil initiatives by the press of two countries. Board Chairman of “Asparez” Journalists’ Club of Gyumri Levon Barseghian outlined the prospects of neighboring Shirak region and villayet of Kars in case of Armenian-Turkish border opening.

AMNESTY APPLIED ON GAGIK SHAMSHIAN

On July 15 RA Criminal Court of Appeal rescinded its ruling of June 15, 2009 on the case of free lance journalist Gagik Shamshian and applied the amnesty, announced on June 19, 2009. As it has been reported, the Criminal Court of Appeal upheld the sentence, passed by court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan on April 17, 2009, which imposed Gagik Shamshian to a fine in the amount of 350,000 AMD (about $ 950) for disrespect to court (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 12-18, 2009).

Earlier, on July 3, the amnesty was also expanded on correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper Gohar Vezirian, accused to a similar penalty for the same crime on May 14, 2009 by court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, July 3-9, 2009).

JOURNALISTICCOMMUNITY CALLS TO CHANGE THE MEASURE OF PUNISHMENT OF “HAYKAKANZHAMANAK” CHIEF EDITOR

On July 13 around 30 heads of media, journalistic organizations of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh made a statement to support the Chief Editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily Nikol Pashinian. As it has been reported, in the beginning of March 2008 Nikol Pashinian was announced wanted within the criminal proceedings, instituted on the events of March 1, 2008 in Yerevan. On July 1, 2009 Nikol Pashinian voluntarily surrendered to the law enforcement bodies. He was charged with Articles 225 (“Mass riots”), 316 (“Violence against a representative of power“) and 225 prime (“Organizing and holding of a pubic event with breach of order stipulated by law”) of RA Criminal Code. Nikol Pashinian received a preventive punishment of arrest (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 26 – July 2, 2009).

The amnesty, announced on June 19, 2009 by the ruling of RA National Assembly, has to be applied on Nikol Pashinian, stresses the statement. According to the ruling, the amnesty should be expanded on persons announced wanted, if they voluntarily surrender to the law enforcement bodies until July 31, 2009. The signatories called the authorities to release the journalist and continue the investigation within the charges brought against him. The authors of statement expressed their readiness to stand surety for the release of Chief Editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak” in terms of law.

TWO PERSONS ARRESTED ON CASE OF ARMENIA TODAY COORDINATOR’S ASSAULT

On July 11 court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan selected arrest as preventive punishment towards two persons, accused for the murder attempt of Argishti Kivirian, Coordinator of ARMENIA Today news agency. As it has been reported, on April 30 at about 5.00, strangers with bats attacked Argishti Kivirian on his way home from the office which is located in the next entrance. Argishti Kivirian in grave health condition and with multiple injuries, also on his head, was taken to hospital, where he spent a week under in-patient treatment. Right after the incident the police instituted criminal proceedings on Article 117 of RA Criminal Code, “Intentional non-grave health injuries”, which was strictly criticized by lawyers, human rights organizations. Later, the case was transmitted to the Investigative Department of RA National Security Service, where the case was requalified to Article 34-104 of RA Criminal Code, i.e., murder attempt (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, May 15-21, 2009).

VANADZOR OFFICE OF HELSINKI CITIZENS ASSEMBLY VERSUS RA MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SUIT DECLINED

On July 10 RA Administrative Court declined the suit of Vanadzor Office of Helsinki Citizens Assembly versus RA Ministry of Defense. As it has been reported, the hearings on the case started on June 26. The plaintiff demanded to oblige the Ministry to provide information on spring conscription of 2008 in a number of districts of Lori region. In particular: 1. how many people should have been called up for mandatory military service in the aforesaid districts; 2. how many people received call-up papers; 3. how many people were deferred and for what terms; 4. how many people received deferment for health or family reasons, or to continue education; 5. how many people submitted a petition for doing alternative military service; 6. how many cases on avoiding military service by the draftees were submitted to court. On the court session of June 26 the defendant provided the plaintiff with information on four of the six points. At the same time, the representative of RA Ministry of Defense noted that the facts about the number of men liable to mandatory military service, as well as the number of those who have received call-up papers cannot be published, according to the RA Law “On State and Official Secret” (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 26 – July 2, 2009).

As the Head of HCA Vanadzor Office Artur Sakunts informed YPC, he intends to appeal the decision of the RA Administrative Court with the upper court jurisdiction.

DEMANDSOF IJEVAN MUNICIPALITYTOWARDS “INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS” ADJUDGED BASELESS

On July 10 court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan released the judgment on the suit of Ijevan municipality (Tavush region) versus “Investigative Journalists” NGO, the founder of “Hetq” on-line. As it has been reported, the case hearings started on September 29, 2008 at Civil Court of Yerevan. The plaintiff demanded to refute the information discrediting the honor, dignity and business reputation of Ijevan Mayor Varuzhan Nersisian – as seen by the city administration to be present in the articles “Whose Pocket Receives Money from Sand Mine?” and “Will the Three Commissions Notice the Illegal Use of Sand?”. The articles were published in “Hetq” on May 5, 2008 and June 23, 2008, respectively, and also printed on May 20, 2008 and July 9, 2008, respectively, in the supplement to “Azg” daily, “Transparent Local Self-Government”. Besides, the plaintiff demanded that the expenses of 930 thousand AMD (about $ 3,100) made for the attorney services be compensated (see details in Yerevan Press Club Report “On Freedom of Speech in Armenia” for 2008 on YPC website: www.ypc.am , “Studies” Section). Later, as a result of judicial reform, the suit was transmitted to court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan, and the hearings were resumed on April 17, 2009.

At the session of July 10 the suit of Ijevan municipality was declined: the court considered the demands of the plaintiff to be baseless.

COURT HEARINGS ON CASES OF NON-PROVISION OF INFORMATION

Freedom of Information Center addressed to RA Administrative Court with suits on non-provision of information versus administrations of six rural communities and “Office on Implementing Programs of Construction and Investments in Yerevan” state non-commercial organization.

The trial on the suit versus Talvorik rural community (Armavir region) started on July 2, 2009 in the RA Administrative Court in Etchmiadzin. The FOI Center demanded to provide the copy of the budget of 2008 and the report of its implementation, as well as the copies of the decisions of the community’s Council of Elderly on land allocation for the second quarter of 2008. At the session of July 9 Talvorik Eldman Kirakos Saghatelian granted the requested information. The court decision on that case is to be released on July 23.

At the hearings of RA Administrative Court in Vedi on July 6 Yelpin rural community (Vayots Dzor region) conferred the requested data to the FOI Center – the copy of the budget of 2008 and the report on its implementation. At the same time, the Administrative Court resolved to impose a fine in the amount of 50,000 (about $ 140) on Yelpin Eldman Artur Poghosian for non-provision of information. The FOI Center considered this decision to be unprecedented in the court practice of Armenia: for the first time the court sentenced an official to a penalty for infringing upon the right of receiving information.

FOI Center resigned the claims on the suits versus the administrations of Lenughi (Armavir region) and Bjni (Kotayk region) rural communities, as the requested information, although with a delay, was provided.

The suits versus two other communities of Armavir region, Zartonk and Parakar, are submitted to consideration.

The hearings on the suit versus the Office on Implementing Programs of Construction and Investments in Yerevan were to start on July 15 at the RA Administrative Court, but were shelved because of the closing down of the Office.