On April 18, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeitun Administrative Districts of Yerevan started preliminary hearings on the lawsuit of Narineh Sargsian and Hrant Suvarian versus the conjoints Susanna Davtian and Lemberik Khachatrian. The founder of the “Aravot” daily, “Aravot Oratert” LLC, is involved in the case as a third party.
As we have reported, the relatives of the former Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsian (resigned on April 3 – Ed.) disputed a piece titled “Prime Minister’s Daughter and Her Father-in-Law Seized My Property”, posted in “Aravot” on February 7, 2014. The conjoints, in particular, stated in the article that Narineh Sargsian and Hrant Suvarian misappropriated their “stone building”. A comment of Hrant Suvarian, the head of Financial Control Department of RA Central Bank, denying any offences on their part against someone’s property, was published as well (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 11-17, 2014).
In the lawsuit on protection of honor and dignity, the former Prime Minister’s daughter and her father-in-law demand from the respondents a refutation and compensation of damage, caused by libel, in the amount of 300,000 AMD (about 540 euros) for each of the plaintiffs, as well as to pay 250,000 AMD each for attorney’s fees.
On April 15, in Gyumri, the second largest city of Armenia, the Administrative Court began hearings of the lawsuit of the RA Police versus Levon Barseghian, the Council Chairman of “Asparez” Journalists’ Club. However, the hearing lasted for only eight minutes.
Levon Barseghian was detained in Yerevan on December 2, 2013, on the day of the visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to Armenia, as a participant of the protest action against Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union. He and more than a dozen of protesters were taken to the Kentron Police Department of Yerevan, held there for about four hours, and then released. According to the police protocol, the protesters were detained upon Article 180-1 (“Violation of the legally established order of holding meetings”) of the RA Code of Administrative Offences. The lawsuit on bringing Levon Barseghian to administrative responsibility was passed in the court proceedings on February 14, 2014.
However, representatives of the RA Police did not come to the April 15 hearing. According to Levon Barseghian, in a letter sent to the court the policemen justified their absence upon the engagement in other trials. As Levon Barseghian ironically puts, among 40 thousand of policemen in the country there was not a single one able to represent the police in court.
Next hearing is scheduled on May 19.
On April 15, in Yerevan Congress Hotel, an incident happened between representatives of the “Society Without Violence” NGO and journalists who came to the event of the NGO.
Round table organized by “Society Without Violence” was dedicated to gender education in Armenian schools. In particular, a package of suggestions for inclusion of gender component in the curriculum of the “Social Science” school subject was to be presented at the event. The media attention was drawn to this round table due to controversial reactions to this initiative in the sphere of education.
Organizers of the round table invited a number of media representatives, but other journalists who also wished to participate in it, were not let to the event. In the April 15, 2014 interview to “Aravot” daily, Anna Nikoghosian, the NGO Executive Director, explained that “Society Without Violence” was under pressure, discussed topic required special knowledge and that is why this was a closed event. “Some people want to make our activities subject to manipulation and spread false information, obstructing our work”, said the head of the NGO.
The dispute between members of the “Society Without Violence” and the journalists, who were not let to the event, escalated into a brawl, which stopped only after the hotel security service interfered.
However, the fact that an NGO organizes a public event and announces it to be of a closed one, is at least surprising. It looks like the NGO was trying to protect itself from unwanted media coverage. Anyway, this incident can be considered as obstructing the work of journalists.