YPC Weekly Newsletter

2007


“Political Processes in South Caucasus and Armenian-Georgian Relations: Reflection in Media”

“PRESS CLUB” CYCLE: “DASHNAKTSUTIUN” STANCE IN THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS

On November 7 another “Press Club” show went on the evening air of “Yerkir Media” TV company. The guest of the program host, the President of Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardian, was the member of “Dashnaktsutiun” party Bureau, the Vice Speaker of the RA National Assembly Vahan Hovhannesian. The discussion subject was the upcoming elections of the RA President, in particular, the stance of “Dashnaktsutiun” during the future election race.

The next program of “Press Club” cycle will be aired by “Yerkir Media” on Wednesday, November 14 at 21.40.

The “Press Club” cycle is produced under a project of Media Diversity Institute, supported by Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation-Armenia.

ARMENIAN-GEORGIAN RELATIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL PROCESSES IN SOUTH CAUCASUS

On October 31 – November 3 in Aghveran (Armenia) the second seminar “Political Processes in South Caucasus and Armenian-Georgian Relations: Reflection in Media” was organized by Yerevan Press Club and Friedrich Ebert Foundation. As it has been reported, the first seminar under the same title was held in late July in Gudauri (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 1-6, 2007). This time “the glance from Yerevan and from Tbilisi” was directed to the geopolitical situation and the projects of economic development of the region. The representatives of media, journalistic organizations of the two countries also discussed such issues as the role of inner political factors in the formation of Armenian-Georgian relations; the upcoming presidential elections in Armenia and the inner political tension in Georgia; the coverage of relations between Armenia and Georgia and with the neighbor countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Russia, in the press of the two counties; public opinion and media regarding the traditional and modernized nationalist concepts; the media reflection of history and culture as uniting and dividing factors in South Caucasus.

TAX AUDITS AND “BLOCKADE” INSTEAD OF COMMERCIALS AT “GALA” TV

On November 2 the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression organized a visit to Gyumri for representatives of 10 national and Yerevan media to see the situation with “GALA” TV company on site. As it has been reported, on October 22 the founder of “GALA” Vahan Khachatrian made a statement with regard to the attempts of various power agencies to exert pressure on the company. The author of the statement stressed the firmness of the TV channel’s stance and his readiness to stop any attempts of intervention in its editorial policy (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 19-25, 2007).

On October 23 “GALA” was notified by the RA State Tax Service about a regular tax audit to be undertaken at “CHAP” LLC, the founder of the TV company, since October 29. The TV company, on its behalf, announced it was going to cover the tax audit proceedings.

Besides, as Vahan Khachatrian said, the TV company started to lose advertisers: their vast majority refused to cooperate. Now, instead of commercial slots, “GALA” shows a caption card saying “Blockade” and quotes Constitution articles guaranteeing various freedoms, including that of expression.

In the afternoon of November 6 an incident occurred involving “GALA” cameraman Grigor Shaghoyan and an officer of the RA State Tax Service. The latter had attacked the cameraman, shooting the audit proceedings, took him by the throat and tried to take the video camera. The scuffle was stopped after the interference of other representatives of tax service and the TV company staff. On the same day Grigor Shaghoyan made a report to the Gyumri police department about impeding his legitimate professional activities. The incident of November 6 was covered by a number of national newspapers, the correspondents of which, upon the initiative of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, had visited Gyumri on the same day. The statement of “Asparez” Journalist’s Club of Gyumri, released on November 6, reminds, in particular, that Article 164 of the RA Criminal Code qualifies impeding the legitimate professional activities of a journalist as a criminal offense, and Part 2 of this Article stipulates responsibility for the commitment of the same offence by an official, using his/her position.

POLICE IMPEDED THE SHOTS OF “SHANT” TV COMPANY

On November 7 the evening issue of “Horizon” newscast of “Shant” TV company showed a report about the police officers impeding the shootings of the fire at the Yerevan car park of the RA Police. The incident occurred a few minutes after the journalist and cameraman of “Shant” had arrived on site. When the cameraman started shooting the burning garage roofs, the police demanded to stop the camera. In reply to the attempts of journalists to explain their rights, the police started closing the camera lens with their hands, and one of them took the shooting crew out of the car park. The airing of the report in “Horizon” newscast was accompanied by a quote of Article 27 of the RA Constitution about the universal right to freedom of expression, freedom to seek, receive, impart information and idea through any media, as well as the provisions of the RA Criminal Code, stipulating responsibility for impeding the legitimate professional activities of journalists. As YPC was told by “Shant” TV company, no comment has so far followed from the RA Police regarding this incident.

TWO NEWSPAPERS OF SYUNIK REGION LAUNCHED THEIR ONLINE VERSIONS

“Syunyats Yerkir” and “Banugorc” newspapers, published in Syunik region, launched their web-sites. The online versions of the newspapers can be viewed at www.syuniacyerkir.am and www.banugorc.am, respectively. The Editor of “Banugorc”, the President of Goris Press Club Susanna Shakhnazarian also told YPC that the issues of the newspaper she heads are currently placed on billboards in four cities of the region – Goris, Kapan, Meghri, Sisian.

SAMVEL ASRIBABAYAN PASSED AWAY

On November 7, at the age of 47 photo journalist Samvel Asribabayan passed away. For many years Samvel was not only our colleague, but also a real friend. Always with a smile on his face, he kept looking for something new, with journalism remaining his permanent abode. Recently Samvel worked for “Sobesednik Armenii” newspaper. It is not often that we met – always finding joy in remembering the good old times, always saying we should come together properly, for a cup of coffee. So sad this was not destined to happen… Samvel’s smile will remain in our hearts, his photographs – in our eyes.

Yerevan Press Club expresses sincere condolences to the friends and family of Samvel Asribabayan, the whole journalistic community.