Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter – 11/19/2008

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

NOVEMBER 14-19, 2008

HIGHLIGHTS:

"PRESS CLUB" AND "PRESS CLUB+": ACTIVITIES OF THE COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATING
EVENTS OF MARCH 1 AND DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL COMMUNITIES OF ARMENIA

THE HEAD OF "INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS" NGO EDIK BAGHDASARIAN ASSAULTED

SUIT VERSUS "ARAVOT" DAILY REVOKED

FIFTH SOUTH CAUCASUS MEDIA CONFERENCE ADDRESSED THE CHALLENGES OF PUBLIC
BROADCASTING

"ZHAMANAK-YEREVAN" HAS A NEW EXECUTIVE EDITOR

"PRESS CLUB" AND "PRESS CLUB+": ACTIVITIES OF THE COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATING
EVENTS OF MARCH 1 AND DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL COMMUNITIES OF ARMENIA

On November 19 another "Press Club" TV show went on the air of "Yerkir
Media" TV company. The cycle is produced by Yerevan Press Club with the
support of the Human Rights and Governance Grants Program of the Open
Society Institute. The guests of the Chairman of the Committee to Protect
Freedom of Expression Ashot Melikian were the member of the parliamentary
faction of "Prosperous Armenia" party Naira Zohrabian, member of
parliamentary faction of "Heritage" party Larisa Alaverdian and the Chairman
of "National Accord" party Aram Harutiunian. The discussion subject were the
activities of RA National Assembly ad hoc committee for the investigation of
March 1, 2008 events in Yerevan.

The next "Press Club" cycle program will be aired by "Yerkir Media" on
Wednesday, November 26, at 23.00.

On November 15 "Yerkir Media" aired another program of "Press Club+" cycle,
produced by Yerevan Press Club with the support of the UK Embassy in
Armenia. The Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression
Ashot Melikian and the participants of the talk show, the Board Chairman of
"Asparez" Journalist’s Club Levon Barseghian and the head of the community
of Arich village Roland Nazaretian discussed the development of rural
communities. The talk show also gave floor to the audience, involving
residents of a number of villages of Shirak region.

The next "Press Club+" show will go on the air of "Yerkir Media" on
Saturday, November 22, at 17.40.

THE HEAD OF "INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS" NGO EDIK BAGHDASARIAN ASSAULTED

On November 17 at about 20.00 in the center of Yerevan an attack was made on
the Chairman of "Investigative Journalists" NGO, the Chief Editor of "Hetq"
online publication Edik Baghdasarian. Having left the building, where the
"Investigative Journalists" office is located, Edik Baghdasarian headed
towards his car when he was assaulted by three strangers. Without saying a
word, the offenders started beating the journalist, struck him with a stone
on his head. The attackers then left, taking Baghdasarian’s photo camera
with them. At the hospital that the journalist was taken to, he got seams
put on his head and diagnosed with brain concussion.

On November 18 Yerevan Press Club, Committee to Protect Freedom of
Expression, Internews Media Support NGO, Journalists Union of Armenia,
"TEAM" Research Center, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, "Asparez"
Journalist’s Club, "A1+" TV company, Armenian Representative of "Scoop"
Danish Network Promoting Investigative Reporting, Helsinki Committee of
Armenia, "Transparency International" Anti-Corruption Center, "For
Sustainable Human Development" Association made a statement.

"In the evening of November 17, 2008 in Yerevan Edik Baghdasarian, the
Chairman of "Investigative Journalists" NGO, the Chief Editor of "Hetq"
online publication, was assaulted and beaten. The journalist had a brain
concussion, and several seams were put on his head at "Surb Grigor
Lusavorich" medical center.

Edik Baghdasarian had received threats before, and this allows believing
that this attack is directly linked to his professional activities.

For many times already scores are settled with journalists in this mean
manner. And every time the authorities assure that they will do everything
in their power to identify the perpetrators. Yet the crimes remain
undisclosed, with their organizers and implementers unpunished. This lack of
punishment unties the hands of those who seek to repress the freedom of
expression.

We condemn the violence committed against Edik Baghdasarian, and we call on
the authorities to refrain from repeated waste of promises, to really
disclose the crime and punish those guilty", the statement of twelve
Armenian NGOs says.

Different political forces of the country also condemned the incident with
Chairman of "Investigative Journalists".

On November 18 RA Prime-Minister Tigran Sargsian visited Edik Baghdasarian
at the hospital and expressed his confidence that "those guilty will be
disclosed in the shortest time possible" (cited from the release by the
Department of Information and Public Relations of RA Government). Paying
greater attention to the formation of atmosphere of mutual tolerance and
respect in the society, the Prime-Minister expressed his hope that the
dialogue between the government, media and civil society will provide
correct decisions for its accomplishment. On the same day, November 18, RA
President’s Press-Secretary Samvel Farmanian, stressing that any expression
of violence towards journalists is unacceptable, said that RA President
Serge Sargsian ordered the law enforcement bodies to find those who attacked
Edik Baghdasarian as soon as possible and bring them to trial.

According to the information of the RA General Prosecutor’s Office, Kentron
Police Investigating Department of Yerevan instituted criminal proceedings
on the incident of November 17 by Article 113 of RA Criminal Code
("Premeditated Injury of Medium Gravity").

A number of NGOs declared about organizing an action of protest on November
19 in Yerevan, in front of the RA General Prosecutor’s Office. It is aimed
against inactivity of the authorities and demands to disclose and punish
those guilty in attacking Edik Baghdasarian. The statement of the initiative
group organizing the action stressed: "Physical violence against journalists
and activists of the civil society has become common in Armenia. The
incident with Edik Baghdasarian is just another case. (…) Who is the
next?.."

SUIT VERSUS "ARAVOT" DAILY REVOKED

On November 14 in the Civil Court of Yerevan a session on the suit of Artur
Ghevondian, RA Police Officer, versus "Aravot" daily was held. As it has
been reported, the litigation reason was "If Your Neighbor Is a Policeman"
article, published in "Aravot" on June 25, 2008. The plaintiff decided that
this communication is discrediting his honor and dignity and demanded that
the daily be committed to a refutation. During the hearing that started on
October 21, 2008, the respondent asked the plaintiff to point out the
specific phrases used in the piece and qualified as discrediting. On October
22 Artur Ghevondian presented the necessary specifications. On October 24
the author of the publication, the correspondent of "Aravot" Ruzan Minasian,
on her behalf, addressed the Media Ethics Observatory to make an expert
assessment of the article. On October 31 the Media Ethics Observatory made
its assessment, stating that the piece "does not contain unequivocal
violations of the Code of Conduct and the internationally recognized
standards". The phrases that the plaintiff challenges as "information
discrediting to honor and dignity" and "factual mistakes", in the opinion of
the MEO, "are not facts but conclusions or opinions, based on the facts,
quoted in the article". The several strong expressions, used in the piece,
while being reflective of the stereotypes in the society, cannot, however,
"be qualified as insult from the viewpoint of professional journalistic
ethics, either", the MEO said (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 31 –
November 6, 2008).

At the session of November 14 Ruzan Minasian presented this assessment to
the court. Artur Ghevondian announced that if "Aravot" published the
assessment, he would revoke the suit. The next day, November 15, the daily
published the text of the expert assessment of the Media Ethics Observatory
on "If Your Neighbor Is a Policeman" article. On November 18 the court
secured the petition of Artur Ghevondian about revoking the suit. The ruling
on the case will be announced on November 26.

Thus, a precedent has appeared in Armenia. For the first time, upon the
request of a party, the self-regulation body makes an assessment on the
litigation subject, and the opponent party, being satisfied with the content
and publicizing of the document, revokes the suit.

The Media Ethics Observatory was set up on March 10, 2007 by the heads of
Armenian media that supported the self-regulation initiative of Yerevan
Press Club (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 9-15, 2007). The mission of the
MEO is to study the complaints on the violations of the Code of Conduct of
Media Representatives and making judgments on them. As of today, the Code of
Conduct and the appendix to it, the Declaration of Election and Referenda
Coverage Principles, is signed by 31 media. The initiative is also supported
by 8 journalistic associations.

FIFTH SOUTH CAUCASUS MEDIA CONFERENCE ADDRESSED THE CHALLENGES OF PUBLIC
BROADCASTING

On November 13-14 in Tbilisi the Fifth South Caucasus Media Conference was
held. The conference was organized by the Office of the OSCE Representative
on Freedom of the Media and OSCE Mission in Georgia. The event was dealing
with the challenges of public broadcasters and the digital switchover. In
the conference heads of media, journalistic associations, state officials of
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, international experts and OSCE representatives
took part.

"ZHAMANAK-YEREVAN" HAS A NEW EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Since November 13, 2008, the member of Political Council and the
spokesperson of "Republic" party Suren Sureniants has become the Executive
Editor of "Zhamanak-Yerevan" daily. As it has been reported, earlier in 2008
the daily was managed by Aydin Morikian (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, January
3-10, 2008).

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

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Editor of YPC Newsletter – Elina POGHOSBEKIAN
_____________________________________ _______
Yerevan Press Club
9B, Ghazar Parpetsi str.
0002, Yerevan, Armenia
Tel.: (+ 374 10) 53 00 67; 53 35 41; 53 76 62
Fax: (+374 10) 53 56 61
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:

www.ypc.am

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