On January 24 court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan started hearing the suit of Director of the Armenia National Art Gallery Paravon (Pharaoh) Mirzoyan versus the founder of “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” daily, “Trespassers W.” LLC, and artist Sergey Gasparian. As it has been reported, the reason for the suit became the article “To Know Pharaoh”, published in “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” on April 9, 2011. The piece contained unpleasant expressions by Sergey Gasparian, critically assessing the Head of the National Art Gallery Paravon Mirzoyan. The plaintiff demanded to refute the information discrediting his reputation, compensate the moral damage made to his honor and dignity of 3 million AMD (about $ 7,900), as well as to pay off the court expenses of 360,000 AMD (about $ 950). On June 26, 2011 the case was taken into consideration. On October 28, 2011 Council on Information Disputes released a judgment on this suit. According to the Council, the conflict is more an ethical matter than a legal one, therefore it should be set out of court, particularly through the Media Ethics Observatory. On November 2, 2011 the founder of “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” addressed the Media Ethics Observatory for receiving an expert judgment on the judicially disputed article (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 28 – November 3, 2011). The conflict between Art Gallery Director and “Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun” daily was discussed at “Press Club” talk show, broadcasted on “Yerkir Media” TV on November 11, 2011 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, November 11-17, 2011).
On December 25, 2011 the Media Ethics Observatory rendered the judgment on article “To Know Pharaoh”. Even though pointing out some shortcomings of the piece, the MEO particularly noted that a number of expressions contested by the Art Gallery Director are not facts but value judgments. Hence, their validity is unprovable. MEO concluded that the conflict between Paravon Mirzoyan and the daily “is a matter of journalistic ethics” and may be settled “through publication in ‘Chorrord Inknishkhanutiun’ of the refutation or reply text provided by Paravon Mirzoyan, or publication of the MEO judgment in the daily” (full text of MEO judgment is available in Armenian at www.ypc.am in “Self-Regulation” section). As it has been reported, MEO was formed on March 10, 2007 by the heads of Armenian media who supported the YPC initiative on establishing a self-regulation system in Armenia (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 9-15, 2007). The mission of the MEO consists in the consideration of complaints and appeals regarding the violations of the Code of Conduct of Media Representatives and making judgments on these.
At the session of January 24 the court distributed the burden of proof among parties.