YPC Weekly Newsletter
February 2-8

On February 8, at the Journalists Union of Armenia certificates were awarded to the graduates of the training course on journalistic investigations. The ten-month training that started in December, 2000, was organized by Yerevan Press Club and the Journalists Union of Armenia with the support of the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation-Armenia. The trainees enrolled were journalists from various Armenian media who decided to specialize in journalistic investigation.

The finalization of the training was also the beginning for a new course, that on corruption issues and its coverage in the media. This time the course will be taken not only by journalists, including some of the graduates of the first course, but also senior students of journalism. The representatives of international organizations present at the event shared their plans on the support of programs against corruption.


On February 7, at the session of Armenian Government with President Robert Kocharian at chair, the Draft Law “On Mass Communication”, developed by the Ministry of Justice, was approved.

The haste with which the document was included in the agenda of the Government is at least surprising. The Draft Law was directed to media, journalistic associations for a discussion quite recently, and not everyone had time to study it, analyze and develop suggestions for it. Those, who have made their point, also by means of media, gave quite critical assessment to the Draft. In particular, the Yerevan Press Club introduced both its brief comment (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 26 - February 1, 2002), and a detailed analysis of the Draft Law “On Mass Communication” (published in “Hayots Ashkhar” daily, February 2, 2002). Not all the international organizations to which the document was sent for an expert evaluation had time to send their assessment. The recommendations that were received are far from being fully implemented by the Ministry of Justice.

The Draft Law of the Ministry has a lot of major contradictions with the Draft Law “On Media” developed and improved by YPC in 1996-2001 with the participation of journalistic community and lawyers, a Draft which has been introduced to public at large and was evaluated by a number of international organizations.

The negligence of alternative approaches, opinions of journalists by the Government may lead to another confrontation on the lawmaking arena. Now a major part in the reconciliation of these attitudes is to be played by the National Assembly of Armenia. A lot will depend on the readiness of the journalistic community to defend its right to independence and freedom of speech, the right to exercise the profession without censorship or supervision on behalf of the authorities, who keep forgetting that our country is not situated on an isolated island; moreover, it is a member of the Council of Europe.


On February 7, the Embassy of Iran in Armenia held a meeting with Armenian journalists on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of interstate relations between Armenia and Iran. The IRI Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador in Armenia Mohammad Farhad Koleini spoke at the meeting and presented briefly the history of the media development in his country. 

The first daily in Iran appeared in 1831, in 35 years the number of periodicals in this country reached 160. Today, according to the Ambassador, there are 132 dailies issued in Iran, 112 of them being private and 20  - state-owned. Nine print media are issued in foreign languages, one of them - “Alik” - is issued in Armenian. In Iran there are nine satellite TV channels, local companies broadcast in every region of the country. There are four news agencies operating, the biggest of which is IRNA.

During the meeting the Deputy Director of “Prometheus” TV company Aram Safarian and the well-known journalist Armen Hovhannisian shared their impressions of their visits to Iran and received awards from Ambassador Koleini. During the meeting a film on the recent official visit of the RA President Robert Kocharian to Iran was demonstrated.

The meeting participants were distributed questionnaires, asking, in particular: “What are the obstacles for the cooperation between the Armenian and Iranian journalists?” As it has been stated during the meeting, the IRI Embassy in Armenia intends to assist the activation of contacts between the media of the two countries.


On February 1, at the RA Court of Appeals the challenge of the Association of Investigative Journalists of Armenia was considered. As it has already been reported, on December 18, 2001, the court of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan rejected the suit of the Association versus the Head of the State Customs Committee at the RA Government Armen Avetisian, demanding to oblige the Customs Committee to provide information on the exploitation of non-metallic mines (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 15-21, 2001). In particular, the query submitted by the Association to the Head of Customs Committee on October 9, 2001, contained three questions: which specific organizations engaged in exploitation of non-metallic mines export their production; what is the export volume for this production; what amount of customs duties has been paid starting from 1997 up to day? In the opinion of the plaintiff, the refusal of the customs officials to provide the information requested, allegedly, because it is an official secret, is illegitimate.

The representative of the respondent, the head of Legal Department of the Customs Committee Gevorg Nersesian, said during the session at the RA Court of Appeals, that the customs officials failed to answer the first two questions, as this body does not possess information of this kind. Gevorg Nersesian explained the absence of an answer to the third question by the fact that the journalists were interested in customs duties, whereas for this specific production custom fees are stipulated.

As a result, the Court of Appeals made a decision of partially satisfying the claim of the Association, obliging the Customs Committee to answer the third question. This decision did not satisfy the respondent, and he voiced his intention to challenge it at the RA Court of Cassation.

When reprinting or using the information above, reference to the Yerevan Press Club is required.

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Editor of YPC Newsletter - Elina POGHOSBEKIAN

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