YPC Weekly Newsletter
2011
September 23-29
“MEDIA LANDSCAPES” PRESENTATION AHEAD OF EASTERN PARTNERSHIP SUMMIT

On September 28 in Warsaw ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit, the book “Media Landscapes of Eastern Partnership Countries” was presented. The book was published by Yerevan Press Club with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The event was organized by the Poland Institute of Public Affairs and Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

The study, issued within the activities of the Media sub-working group of the EaP Civil Society Forum, raised a great interest and intensive discussions, which were attended by: some of the authors of the overview - Boris Navasardian (YPC), Nadine Gogu (Independent Journalism Center, Moldova), Oksana Volosheniuk (“Academy of Ukrainian Press” International Charitable Foundation), Arif Aliyev (“Yeni Nesil” Journalists Union of Azerbaijan), and Piotr Iwaszkiewicz, Director of Development Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Knut Dethlefsen, Director of the Representation in Poland of Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Jacek Kucharczyk, President of the Executive Board of the Institute of Public Affairs, as well as representatives of Polish expert community, international organizations, journalists. The main topics of discussion were the media situation in six EaP countries and the European Union perspectives to support the countries in overcoming issues.

“Media Landscapes” is a joint overview, supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and conducted by Yerevan Press Club and partner organizations: “Yeni Nesil”; Belarusian Association of Journalists; Association and Radio “Green Wave”, Media Development Fund (Georgia); Independent Journalism Center; Internews Ukraine and Academy of Ukrainian Press. In the course of the preparation of “Media Landscapes”, unified structure and approaches were adopted for all six countries. The situation in each country is described through nine chapters: “Broadcast Media”, “Print Media”, “New Media”, “Access to Information”, “Media Self-Regulation”, “Working Conditions of Journalists”, “International Cooperation”, “Activities of Media NGOs”, “Journalism Education”. The general challenges faced by free media in the countries of the Eastern Partnership - attempts to control the Internet, to use the digitization of broadcasting to further monopolize the TV air, resorting to implicit, sophisticated forms of censorship; as well as the threats to free expression that have “national character” - political repressions against opposition journalists, use of defamation laws to exert economic pressure on critical media are reflected in the overview.

The “Media Landscapes of Eastern Partnership Countries” (in English and Russian) is available at the YPC website www.ypc.am, in “Studies” section.

“YERKRAGUND” ON THE UPCOMING EASTERN PARTNERSHIP SUMMIT

On September 27 the sixteenth show of “Yerkragund” (“Globe”) cycle went on the evening air of “Yerkir Media” TV company. The current show was produced by Yerevan Press Club with support of Open Society Foundations-Armenia.

The guests of the program host, YPC President Boris Navasardian, were Stepan Grigorian, Head of Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, Karineh Danielian, Chairwoman of Association “For Sustainable Human Development”, Armen Sargsian, producer of “Internews” Media Support public organization, independent expert Vahan Ghazarian. The discussion focused on the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw on September 29 and the role of civil society in the EaP.

The next “Yerkragund” show will be aired on “Yerkir Media” on Tuesday, October 4 at 19.15 (rerun - on Friday, October 7 at 13.20).

Watch “Yerkragund” of September 27, 2011 here

 

 

HEARINGS ON THE APPEAL OF “ZHAMANAK” FOUNDER STARTED

On September 29 RA Civil Court of Appeal started hearing the complaint of founder and publisher of “Zhamanak” daily, “Skizb Media Kentron” LLC. The latter had contested the court ruling on the suit of the spouse and the son of the Second President of Armenia Robert Kocharian, Bella and Sedrak Kocharians. As it has been reported, the reason of the litigation became the pieces published in “Zhamanak” on September 25, September 29 and October 7, 2010. The articles dealt with a number of companies, which were reportedly owned by the Kocharians’ family or managed through the third parties. The plaintiffs demanded to bind “Zhamanak” to refute the information damaging the honor, dignity and business reputation of Bella and Sedrak Kocharians, exact 3 million AMD (about $ 8,200) from the respondent as compensation for libel and defamation, as well as pay off the court expenses of 3 million AMD. On June 6 the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan secured the suit partially, binding the respondent to refute the information, damaging the honor, dignity and business reputation of Bella and Sedrak Kocharians, as well as pay off the plaintiffs 3 million AMD as compensation for libel and insult (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 3-9, 2011).

The next session of the Court of Appeal may take place on October 6.

“ARMAVIA” DEMANDS COMPENSATION FROM “CHORRORD INKNISHKHANUTIUN”

On September 27 “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” was informed about the suit, lodged by “Armavia” company versus the newspaper founder, “Trespassers W.” LLC. The reason for the suit was the editorial “Did ‘Armavia’ Supply Weapons?”, published in the daily on September 15, 2011. The article, particularly, quoted General Yuri Dominik, Commander of Moldovan National Army, who told that the airplane “IL-76”, which had arrived from Libya to Moldova for a new set of weapons, belongs to “the Armenian civic air company”.

The editorial was reprinted in “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” from the news online publication www.Epress.am. The piece was stored on Epress.am on September 14, 2011 under the title “Did the Armenian Air Company Supply Libya with Weapons?”, and referred to the Russian “Echo of Moscow” radio station and “Interfax” Russian news agency. “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” accompanied the reprint with a photo of an “Armavia” airplane. On September 15 Epress.am placed the refutation of the “Armavia” press service, which stated that the air company is engaged in passenger transportation solely, and not in airfreight; it had never owned the “IL-76” airplane. On September 16 this refutation was published in “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun”, too. On the same day a protest action was held in front of the daily’s editorial office: according to the newspaper, it was attended by the employees of companies, belonging to the owner of “Armavia”, major businessman Mikhail Baghdasarov. On September 17 “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” once again touched upon the topic, presenting extracts from different foreign sources that had cited the Moldovan General.

The suit of “Armavia” versus “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” founder was submitted on September 17 before the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan. The plaintiff demands to refute the information as contained in the editorial “Did ’Armavia’ Supply Weapons?” and discrediting its business reputation, pay off a compensation of moral loss damage of 2 mln AMD (about $ 5,400).

As “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” informed YPC, the preliminary hearings on the case will be held on November 1.

SUIT OF COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION VERSUS NCTR REVOKED

On September 27 RA Administrative Court revoked the suit of Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression versus National Commission on Television and Radio. As it has been reported, on February 21, 2011 the CPFE had inquired the NCTR to provide the application packages of the TV companies taking part in the broadcast licensing competitions, which were summed up on December 16 and 23, 2010. The NCTR had answered that the information requested could be provided, with the exception of those documents that contained commercial secret, specifically contracts on rebroadcasting of programs of foreign TV stations, as well as resumes of the TV companies’ staff. On April 11 CPFE filed a suit before the RA Administrative Court demanding to bind NCTR with fully providing the inquired information. The hearings on the suit took place on September 13 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 8-15, 2011).

The suit of CPFE was revoked on the grounds of Part 1 of Clause 1 of Article 8 of RA Law “On Freedom of Information”, according to which the provision of information may be denied if it contains state, official, bank, commercial secret.

The CPFE intends to appeal the ruling before upper court jurisdiction.

COURT RULES TO PUBLISH A REFUTATION IN A CEASED NEWSPAPER

On September 27 court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan released a ruling on the suit of Susanna Baghdasarian, dweller of Areni village, Vayots Dzor region, versus “Hayk” newspaper, its correspondent Arman Galoyan and inhabitant of Areni village Svetlana Arakelian. The reason for the suit became the piece “In the Wake of Murder”, published in “Hayk” on August 8, 2008. It told about the murder of Karen Manukian, committed by Susanna Baghdasarian’s spouse, Hamlet Baghdasarian. The article cited the opinion of the widow of the killed, Svetlana Arakelian, who spoke about the family of Baghdasarian rather unflatteringly, in particular about their death son. The plaintiff demanded to refute the information, defacing the memory of her son. The suit was taken into consideration on August 23, 2010, the hearings started on October 26, 2010.

According to the court ruling of September 27, 2011, the information subject to refutation was reflected not in the words of the journalist, but in the quoted opinion of Svetlana Arakelian, consequently the information was to be refuted by Svetlana Arakelian and published in “Hayk” newspaper.

Meanwhile, “Hayk” newspaper stopped its issues since mid-summer 2010.

On September 28 Arman Galoyan, presently correspondent of “Zhoghovurd” newspaper and Lragir.am online publication, released a statement, which considers the court ruling and the whole court proceedings as a clownery. The journalist particularly emphasized that when submitting the suit into consideration after two years of the publication of the contested article, the court disregarded the Part 2 of Clause 1 of Article 8 of the Law “On Mass Communication”. The Article prescribes that the demand on refutation of information can be made within a month after its release. Likewise Arman Galoyan justifies his refusal to participate in the litigation. Moreover, the court bound Svetlana Arakelian to publish a refutation in a newspaper which has ceased to exist since July 2010, the statement notes. All the above, according to Arman Galoyan, is supposed to be “either a political intimidation, or premeditated illiteracy”.

CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS INSTITUTED ON THE INCIDENT AT “HRAPARAK” OFFICE

On September 26 “Hraparak” daily received a notification informing that Kentron Police Department has instituted criminal proceedings on the April 21, 2011 incident at the daily’s editorial office. As it has been reported, on that day, Margarita Khachatrian, Chairwoman of “Zinvor” (“Soldier”) Association of NGOs, accompanied by three people, came to the “Hraparak” editorial office to express her indignation regarding the “Hraparak” editorial informing about her visit to one of the military units. While talking with the staff the Head of “Zinvor” was free-spoken, threw at them everything that came to hand, trying to strike, as a result they had to call the police. On May 23 “Hraparak” was informed that the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan submitted to consideration the suit of Margarita Khachatrian versus the newspaper founder, “Hraparak Oratert” LLC. The Head of “Zinvor” demanded to refute the information published in the editorial, recompense the damage, made by libel and defamation, of 2 million AMD (about $ 5,400) and cover the state duty for filing the court. On May 26 the law enforcement bodies notified the newspaper that criminal proceedings on the incident were not instituted as a result of absence of corpus delicti.

The founder of “Hraparak” complained versus the RA Investigative Service and the supervising prosecutor, who had denied instituting criminal proceedings. On July 25 court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan secured the complaint. On September 1 the RA Criminal Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the court of general jurisdiction (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 8-15, 2011).

Thus, the criminal proceedings on the incident at “Hraparak” office were instituted pursuant to the court ruling.

POLICE HINDERED THE CIVIC PROTEST ACTION ON THE DAY OF INDEPENDENCE OF ARMENIA

In the morning of September 21 in the center of Yerevan Levon Barseghian, Board Chairman of “Asparez” Journalists Club of Gyumri, and sculptor Arno Kur (Sasha Galechian) were detained by the police. The twelve citizens, who had gathered at the statue of Martiros Sarian, were preparing for the protest action against the participation of foreign units in the military parade on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Armenia’s Independence. The lieutenant colonel of police who introduced himself as one of the heads of the Kentron Police Department, questioned the activists about their intentions, then went away, and after a while ordered the representatives of law enforcement bodies to arrest the action organizers - Levon Barseghian and Arno Kur. The latter ones were conveyed to the Kentron Police Department, where they stayed more than 3 hours and were released when the parade was over. In the evening of the same day Levon Barseghian and Arno Kur delivered a statement, which particularly noted that their detention was illegitimate: there was a use of force, an attorney was not allowed to visit them, and they were not presented the protocol of reconduction. The statement authors emphasized that the police violated their constitutional rights to freedom of movement, assembly and expression; thereby they are intended to address the court.

GOLD KEYS AND RUSTY LOCKS ON THE OCCASION OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF FOI CENTER

On September 28 at “Marriott” hotel in Yerevan the award ceremony of Freedom of Information Center’s annual competition took place. The event was dedicated to the 10th Anniversary of FOI Center and the International Right to Know Day (established in 2002).

The RA Ministry of Education and Science was named as the state institution the most efficiently applying the RA Law “On Freedom of Information” in 2011.

The website of the RA Ministry of Justice (www.moj.am) was recognized as the best public structure to place data through Internet.

The Administration of Kotayk region was awarded for the initiative to ensure the freedom of information - establishing an information center for the Kotayk inhabitants at its own expense.

In 2011 the “Victims of State Needs” NGO was the most active and efficient in using its right to information.

The most consistent in covering the freedom of information issues were: Arman Gharibian, correspondent of Lragir.am online publication, www.PanArmenian.net news agency and the website of Civil Society Institute www.hra.am.

By tradition all persons and organizations, listed above, were awarded prizes of a gold key - as a symbol of openness.

The rusty lock, a symbol of secrecy, was conferred to the RA State Revenue Committee by the Government and “Hamalsaranakanner” county - as authors of the most curious official replies to the request on provision of information.

Yerevan Press Club congratulates the Freedom of Information Center on the anniversary, wishes success and prosperity to colleagues!

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

You are welcome to send any comment and feedback about the Newsletter to: pressclub@ypc.am

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Editor of YPC Newsletter - Elina POGHOSBEKIAN

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