CRIMINAL CASE OPENED FOR IMPENDING PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES OF “CHORRORD ISHKHANUTYUN” CORRESPONDENT
On February 25, the RA Special Investigative Service opened a criminal case under Art. 164, part 2 (“Impending the legitimate professional activities of a journalist by an abuse of power on part of a state official”) and Art. 309, part 2 (“Abuse of office, combined with the use of violence”) of RA Criminal Code, based on the complaint filed by Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper.
As we have reported, on February 12, Ani Gevorgian and Sargis Gevorgian, cameraman of the iLur.am, were covering a public action of the Armenian National Congress in downtown Yerevan, were arrested and taken to the Kentron Police Department of Yerevan, where they were held for about four hours. Police officers took away journalists’ cameras and mistreated them. In particular, the chief of Kentron Police Department slapped Ani Gevorgian (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 18-24, 2014).
THE “VICTIM” POLICEMAN SKIPPED COURT HEARING CLAIMING HEALTH PROBLEMS
On February 25, the hearing on the criminal case against Argishti Kivirian, the coordinator of ARMENIA TODAY, charged with beating a police officer, was to be continued at the Court of General Jurisdiction of Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun Administrative Districts of Yerevan. At the second court session the police officer was supposed to testify on the charges he brought against the journalist. The “victim”, however, sent the court a statement claiming he could not participate due to his poor health, and the hearing was adjourned till March 4.
As we have reported, Argishti Kivirian was detained in August 2013, during civil society protests against the construction of a residential building in Yerevan. According to the journalist, the law-enforcers beat him in the police car, he was summoned to the police station with injuries and bruises on his face, from where the ambulance transferred him to the hospital. Argishti Kivirian addressed the police with a statement about the use of force during his detention. Meanwhile, the police instituted criminal proceedings against Argishti Kivirian, claiming the journalist assaulted an officer. All materials related to the incident were sent to the RA Special Investigative Service that initially accused the journalist by Article 316 (“Violence against a representative of the authorities”) as well as Article 333 (“False denunciation”) of the RA Criminal Code. Later the investigative body acquitted him of the false denunciation charge and offered to grant the journalist an amnesty. Argishti Kivirian refused the amnesty and demanded that all the offenders involved in illegal actions against him should be called to account. On January 22, the case was sent to the court. The hearings started on February 12 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 11-17, 2014).
“AZG” NEWSPAPER BECAME WEEKLY
On February 28, “Azg” newspaper resumed its publishing. Since the beginning of 2014 “Azg” has not published because of the debts to the printing house (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 17-23, 2014). Meanwhile, now the former daily is issued once a week, on Fridays (16/A3 pages). The price has also increased, and now the newspaper costs 200 AMD (about 35 eurocents).
According to Hakob Avetikian, the Chief Editor of “Azg”, the increased prices on print press are justified. As he told, the prices on newspapers have not changed since 1994, however, over the years, many circumstances have changed – both in terms of price and in terms of services. According to Chief Editor, in order to operate at the expense of the net profit, an newspaper should have the circulation of at least 8,500 copies. But the circulation has been permanently falling, due to the rise of online media market among other factors. If before 1994 “Azg” had the circulation of 44,000 copies, now it has only 2,000 copies. Hakob Avetikian noted that today there are no more than 15,000 of newspapers readers in Armenia.
It should be noted that since the beginning of the year the prices of periodicals have risen. It was caused mainly due to the increase in prices for printing services. The growth of prices for printing services, in turn, was caused by the growth of prices for electricity by 27% and gas by 17% in Armenia since July of the previous year.