Court decisions with political context

The beginning of this year was marked with an unprecedented parade of claims against media by well-known politicans or people surounding them, and the month of June began with the proclamation of the court decisions on these cases in the spotlight of the society. The court disputes, at this moment decisions, of “Zhamanak” daily and Bella and Robert Kocharyans, “Hetq” daily reporter Grisha Balasanyan and National Assembly deputy Ruben Hayrapetyan, “Yerkir” daily and National Assembly Deputy Tigran Arzakantsyan, “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily and National Assembly deputies Samvel Alexanyan, Levon Sargsyan and Ruben Hayrapetyan followed each other on June 6, 7, 8 and 9. The appeal decision on the last case was being expected. As we predicted the decisions born from the court riddle were made in favor of the side which weighed heavier due to its authoritative and/or financial levers.

Thus Kocharyans’ claim was partly satisfied, the slander and libel were assessed to the maximum amount of AMD 3 million, but the demand of another AMD 3 million for legal expenses was rejected. The claim of Tigran Arzakantsyan was also satisfied partly, the intolerant insult was assessed AMD 200,000 (instead of the expected AMD 3mln), legal expenses AMD 80,000 (instead of AMD 568,000) and AMD 8,000 as a state duty. The claim of three Armenian parliamentarians against “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily was partly satisfied by the court of first instance obligating the newspaper to pay AMD 2mln 44ths to each deputy (total AMD 6mln 132ths). According to June 9 decision, the appeal of the newspaper was rejected. As for the case when the deputy cursed the journalist and slandered his reputation, the insult was not honored with financial compensation. The criminal and civil claims of journalist Grisha Balasanyan against National Assembly deputy Ruben Hayrapetyan were rejected.

Perhaps out of all these the only verdict against “Yerkir” daily can be treated as consolatory only based on the demanded amount (AMD 288,000 instead of AMD3mln), though, it seems so only at first sight. This makes the existing factor more obvious that in our reality the judicial system has become a direct or indirect executant of political demands. Despite their experience in the political field, some well-known public figures do not want or are not able to establish civilized communication with journalists and media outlets and are extremely sentimental to any criticism, which results in making use of the judicial power to settle scores with undesirable media outlets. This process can have a sad continuation that will make any journalist or media outlet apply self-censorship and ponder over even his/her own viewpoint, opinion, conclusion or analysis before publication. And because of this online and print media will probably become too monotonous, like the Armenian dull TV air. Perhaps, this is the final aim …

Anna ALOYAN

CPFE Expert

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