Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression Chair Ashot Melikyan response to the Facebook posting by RPA Vice-Chair Armen Ashotyan

Today RPA Vice-Chair Armen Ashotyan wrote on his Facebook page that he is expecting the assessment by media organizations, institutions dealing with the freedom expression and press and certain human rights defenders of the Facebook posting by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. We should remind that in relation to certain TV Companies, the Prime Minister said they are conducting anti-state campaign, “taking the opportunity of the unlimited freedom of expression.” “Do not do that, simply don’t”, said the Prime Minister in the end.

Truly interesting transformations are taking place. When Armen Ashotyan, being the Vice-Chair of the ruling RPA party, was running the “Yerankyuni” (triangle) public-political program over the Public TV Company, and both the experts from media organizations and me personally were saying that it is unacceptable, our opinion was of no value to him. When we were saying that the Armenian broadcasting field and the “Law on TV and Radio” needs radical reforms, they were ignoring us. When we were demanding to discover and punish those who used violence against and persecuted the journalists during “Electric Yerevan” and Sari Tagh events, the authorities only imitated pre-investigation. And now, our opinion became important to Armen Ashotyan. Frankly speaking, here two intentions are noticed. First, try to use independent media organizations for some political objectives; second, to deviate the public attention as much as possible from much more important events that are taking place currently. I guess both will fail.

The independent media organizations and Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression in particular, considering unacceptable any interference by the authorities or pressure on the media outlets, has always expressed its disposition about any problem in the field. As the Armenian media outlets are divided into various political camps, during the recent period they stick out with biased, partial publications and programs. Mr. Ashotyan, this is the field of broadcasting formed during the ruling of RPA, and I want to reiterate, that it should be radically changed. We are ready to support any initiative in this respect, and we can make recommendations. Nevertheless, any authority should be very tolerant towards the publications by the media outlets and the assessments in them. And in this respect the calls by Nikol Pashinyan “anti-state campaign” and “don’t do it, simply don’t” can be assessed as interference by the head of the government in the activity of the TV companies.

Perhaps, it would be right, if the Prime Minister pointed out the evident violations of the ethical norms in the programs of TV companies he meant, and turned to the Observing body of mass media self-regulation to get some expert conclusion. This could be the best precedent in out revolutionary country to settle the disputes relating to mass media. May what I said be perceived as a recommendation to both the present and the previous authorities.

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