YPC Weekly Newsletter

2005


“European Neighborhood Policy and Its Coverage in the Armenian Press”

NINETEENTH “PRESS CLUB” SHOW ISSUED

On April 4 on the evening air of the Second Armenian TV Channel the nineteenth “Press Club” show was issued. The cycle is organized by Yerevan Press Club under a homonymous project, supported by the OSI Network Media Program.

The heads of the leading media and journalistic associations of Armenia discussed the hearings on the problem of Mountainous Karabagh, held on March 29-30 at the RA National Assembly. The program participants expect the Armenian media to focus this week on a whole range of issues: the start of the ordinary four-day session of the Parliament and, in particular, the consideration of amendments to the RA Electoral Code; the actions in Yerevan to support “A1+” TV company; the private visit of Armenian President Robert Kocharian to Georgia upon the invitation of the Georgian President Mikhail Sahakashvili on April 1-2; the continuing reduction of the foreign currency exchange rate versus the Armenian dram. Of the international events, as the “Press Club” participants expect, the media will be covering the events in Vatican after the decease of the Pope John Paul II.

EUROPEAN NEIGHBORHOOD POLICY IN ARMENIAN MEDIA

On April 2-3 in Tsaghkadzor a seminar “European Neighborhood Policy and Its Coverage by Armenian Media” was held. The seminar was organized by Yerevan Press Club with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The representatives of media and non-governmental, also journalistic, organizations of Armenia discussed the goals of the European Neighborhood Policy and the involvement of Armenia in it, the problems of the South Caucasus region in the context of new geopolitical trends, the coverage of relations of Turkey with Armenia and European Union in the foreign press, as well as reporting on the process of Armenia’s integration into Europe by Armenian press, and the introduction of European standards of freedom of expression and information in Armenia.

DATA OF THE CANDIDATES FOR VACANCIES IN NCTR PUBLISHED

On April 6 in the official newspapers “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun” and “Respublika Armenia”, in accordance with the RA Law “On Television and Radio”, the announcement of the competition commission on the candidates to the membership in the National Commission on Television and Radio was published. As it has been reported, the competition to fill in three vacancies in NCTR was announced on March 24, and the deadline for applications in it expired on April 4 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 25-31, 2005).

In the announcement data of ten candidates who applied for the competition were presented. These are: Tigran Petrosiants, the deputy chairman-executive director of the compatriot charity “Nig-Aparan” NGO; Karen Hambardzumian, the director of “Media Group” LLC; Tiruhi Ayvazian (no data are presented of this candidate, but for the date of birth); Grigor Emin-Teryan, the Yerevan correspondent of Moscow “Poisk” weekly; Mushegh Hovsepian, head of the chair of TV journalism of Yerevan State University, member of the National Commission on Television and Radio in 2001-2005; Rafik Martirosian, the head of the Education and Culture Department of Malatia-Sebastia communal administration of Yerevan; Simavon Andreasian, member of the National Commission on Television and Radio in 2002-2005; Eduard Sakhinov, executive director of “Karina” TV agency, correspondent of “Golos Rossii” radio station in Armenia; Ara Tadevosian, executive director of “Media-Max”, member of National Commission on Television and Radio in 2001-2005; Zhirayr Dadasian, art director of the Yerevan State Pantomime Theater.

The competition to fill in the vacancies at NCTR is conducted due to expiration of the four-year term of service of three National Commission members – Simavon Andreasian, Mushegh Hovsepian and Ara Tadevosian.

ACTIONS TO SUPPORT “A1+”

On April 2 in Yerevan a procession and a rally to support “A1+” were held in Yerevan to mark the third anniversary since the TV company was deprived of air due to refusal of a broadcast license by the National Commission on Television and Radio. About 300 action participants demanded the authorities of the country to allocate a free frequency to a new, open and transparent, broadcast licensing competition. Previously and on the day of the action a number of newspapers published an appeal on their front pages to join the action and support the demand voiced. Earlier, on March 31, the Journalists Union of Armenia, Yerevan Press Club, Internews Armenia public organization, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression and the Helsinki Committee of Armenia adopted a joint statement, demanding the NCTR jointly with the RA Ministry of Transportation and Communication, other competent bodies to allocate a vacant frequency to hold a public licensing competition. The five NGOs made an appeal to local and international community to direct similar addresses to the National Commission on Television and Radio (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 25-31, 2005).

The April 2 meeting was held in the center of Yerevan by the Komitas Monument, where the signature gathering to support the demand started, too. The action is supposed to last for 10 days.

During the rally to support “A1+”, the representatives of the State Traffic Police took the car owned by the TV company, carrying the banners, loud-speakers and other equipment, to the penalty area. As the Press Secretary of the RA Police Sayat Shirinian announced to the press, after the penalty is paid, the car will be returned to the owner and the remaining equipment will be confiscated, according to the law.

CAR OF THE CHIEF EDITOR OF “SYUNYATS YERKIR” NEWSPAPER BURNED UP

In the early morning of April 1 in Goris (Syunik region) the Niva car, owned by the Chief Editor of “Syunyats Yerkir” newspaper Samvel Alexanian and parked in his yard, went on fire. Criminal proceedings were instituted on the fact of the car ignition.

On April 1 the Chief Editor of “Syunyats Yerkir” released an address to the RA President Robert Kocharian, Armenian media, diplomatic missions accredited in the country, international and journalistic organizations, Head of OSCE Office in Yerevan Vladimir Pryakhin. In his letter Samvel Alexanian qualified the incident as “yet another display of unleashed terrorist actions of the Syunik Governor against “Syunyats Yerkir” newspaper”. The reason for the incident, in Alexanian’s opinion, was his interview to “Novoye Vremya” newspaper (March 12, 2005), “after which the editor of the newspaper received numerous warning from the Governor through intermediaries and anonymous night calls”. In the interview the Chief Editor was telling about the continuing pressure on him and his family from the representatives of the local authorities, in particular, the Governor of Syunik region Suren Khachatrian.

The Governor himself publicly denied all the accusations to his address and said he would punish Samvel Alexanian in accordance with the law.

Earlier, the Chief Editor of “Syunyats Yerkir” was the press-secretary of the Syunik Governor and was dismissed from this position in late September, 2004. The dismissal led to vacating the premises that the newspaper occupied in the building of the regional administration. On October 13, 2004 at the editorial office of his newspaper, located at one of Kapan hotels, Samvel Alexanian was assaulted by the Chairman of “Syunyats Artsivner” (“Eagles of Syunik”) NGO Khachik Asrian. Samvel Alexanian linked this incident to the number of critical pieces of the newspaper on the issues, crucial for the region (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 8-14, 2004).

As Samvel Alexanian believes, his newspaper has been announced a war in Syunik region. “The pressure on the newspaper and the threats to myself throughout the past six months are a consequence of the current climate in Syunik”, he said in a conversation with YPC. Samvel Alexanian also informed that the case of the attack on him on October 13 is currently being heard by the court of primary jurisdiction of Syunik region; however, he is not taking part in the process. This refusal is explained by the Chief Editor of “Syunyats Yerkir” by his discontent with the materials of the preliminary investigation. In the course of the investigation Samvel Alexanian addressed the General Prosecutor’s Office of Armenia with a petition to challenge the investigative group of the Syunik regional department of the RA Police, which, in his opinion, is under the pressure of the Governor, the Prosecutor of the Syunik region and the bodies of state administration. Upon the order of the RA General Prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepian, the case was transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office of the neighboring Vayots Dzor region. Yet, Samvel Alexanian stressed, the change of the investigative body did not yield the expected results: “Having familiarized myself with the materials, I had the impression that a totally different incident was investigated.”

The defendant on the case of attacking the Chief Editor of “Syunyats Yerkir” Khachik Asrian, on his behalf, addressed the Police of the Syunik region, petitioning to institute criminal proceedings against Samvel Alexanian. The reason was the above mentioned interview to “Novoye Vremya” newspaper, in which, in the opinion of Asrian, the Chief Editor libeled him, saying that some time ago he was dismissed from law enforcement bodies for public disorder and has a conviction for theft.