YPC Weekly Newsletter

2014

SEPTEMBER 22-28

OFFICIALS AND JOURNALISTS HAVE DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDING OF PUBLIC INTEREST

On September 25, after the meeting of the Government, RA Minister of Justice (MoJ) Hovhannes Manukian met with reporters to present decisions adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers. However, the press conference ended before it had even started.

Reporters first tried to inquire about the Minister’s opinion regarding the recovery of Surik Khachatrian in the post of Syunik Governor which was announced on the same day, September 25.

Hovhannes Manukian promised to answer the journalists’ questions at the end of the press conference and went on with his speech but the media representatives insisted that Manukian, as the Minister of Justice, commented on the re-appointment of Surik Khachatrian which caused a wide public outcry.

Syunik Governor and his family members in the recent years are often associated with various scandals, the apogee of which was the shooting of June 1, 2013 in the backyard of his house in Goris, with the involvement of his son and bodyguards. Avetik Budaghian, former candidate for Goris mayor, died from the gunshots received in the shooting, and his brother, Artak Budaghian, colonel of Armenian armed forces, was severely injured. Another citizen – Nikolay Abrahamian was also wounded in the shooting. Khachatrian resigned after the incident. His son Tigran Khachatrian and his bodyguard Zarzand Nikoghosian were facing charges on three articles of the Criminal Code (murder, illegal possession of weapons, intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm). They were arrested for two months by the court decision, however later were released from the custody, and the criminal prosecution against them was terminated. Investigating authorities came to a conclusion that “the defendants’ actions fall under the features of self-defense”.

Determination of the journalists to get comments from the Minister regarding the recovery of Surik Khachatrian in the post of the governor irritated the head of the MoJ. His attempts to bring the press conference back to the scheduled course failed.

Hovhannes Manukian reminded the media representatives that their mission is to communicate significant topics to the public, including decisions ratified at today’s Government meeting. The reporters, however, argued that re-appointment of Surik Khachatrian in the post of the governor is of no less, if not more, concern for the public. But the Minister was adamant. Once you are not interested in such important things, I will find another way to inform the public about the decisions of the Government, said the Minister  and left the press conference (video footage from the press conference by Lragir.am) .

Similar situation occurred during the subsequent briefing with the Deputy Minister of Finance Vakhtang Mirumian. Reporters’ attempts to get the Deputy Minister’s opinion regarding the re-appointment of Surik Khachatrian were equally unsuccessful (ibid.).