Former Armenian police chief threatened to run over journalists with a quadricycle

JAM News
Aug 11 2020

    JAMnews, Yerevan
 

Former chief of the Armenian police Vladimir Gasparyan is facing charges after obstructing the work of a film crew of Radio Azatutyun (RFE/RL), which was preparing a report on illegal private houses and structures located on the shore of Lake Sevan.

 Vladimir Gasparyan threatened to run the journalists over with his quadricycle, to ‘shoot and kill’ them, and demanded they not film his mansion.

Under Article 164 of the Criminal Code, for “obstruction of a journalist’s execution of their lawful professional activity”, accompanied by the use or threat of violence, imprisonment is provided for a term of three to seven years.

Media organizations statement

Ten journalistic organizations of Armenia issued a joint statement and demanded that law enforcement agencies seriously investigate the incident and bring the former police chief to justice.

The signatory organizations noted that “Vladimir Gasparyan, even during his tenure, was distinguished for his insolent attitude towards media representatives, and in some cases by cruelty.”

In particular, there are rumors about numerous incidents during the protests in the summer of 2015, called “Electric Yerevan”, as well as the events of 2016 in the capital’s Sari Takh quarter. 

Here, by order of Vladimir Gasparyan, policemen used physical violence against more than 40 journalists and cameramen, took away and smashed cameras and video cameras.

 “All of this went unpunished, and, apparently, this is the reason that today the former chief of police continues to display indecent behavior towards journalists,” the statement said.

“We are terrified by this attack”

 Daisy Sindelar, President of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said in connection with the incident:

“We are horrified by this attack on journalists from our Armenian service, especially by the former police chief … The journalists were covering a topic of significant public interest when Mr. Gasparyan nearly hit them with his car, threatened to kill them and forced them to remove the footage.”

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