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“GALA” vs tax inspection: 11-year-old case will be tried in the criminal domain

The administrative court made a decision to start a new trial of the case “CHAP” LLC, founder of “GALA” TV company vs. Gyumri tax inspection. This case has a history of 11 years. The decision to try the case at the RA administrative court was made after the decision by the ECHR on May 4, 2017 and the quashing the decision at the RA court of Cassation on April 7, 2018.

With a counter-claim, “CHAP” LLC representative Karen Toumanyan claims to invalidate the decision about the fine of AMD 25212700 made by the tax bodies in 2007 (in fact AMD 25.116.700 was levied from the founder of the TV company). The court should find out whether the administrative fine is founded or not. Moreover, the dispute should be tried in the criminal domain, as the matter is about abuse of a huge amount of money, which was not taken into consideration when the case went through three RA judicial instances, starting 2007, something that the European Court of Human Rights drew attention to. 

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STATEMENT

We, the undersigned news organizations, congratulate Nikol Pashinyan on the occasion of being elected as the RA Prime Minister and taking the office, and we express our hope that the new government will make radical reforms in Armenia.

We are sure, that such reforms are needed in the fields of mass media and information freedom. A number of legislative changes passed during the recent period groundlessly restrict transparency and accountability of the government activity, and violate the right to receive and disseminate information.

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STATEMENT

Reconfirming our assessments and demands mentioned in the April 19 Statement, below we present the cases of violence against the journalists and impeding their professional activities during April 20-22.

On April 22, at night, Anatoli Yeghiazaryan, program director of Radio “Liberty”,  was beaten by police officers in the Garegin Nzhdeh square. According to the radio “Liberty”, the incident occurred, when Yeghiazaryan, who was coming back home from work, tried to film with his mobile phone how approximately fifty police officers were attempting to disperse the peaceful protesters via using force. Noticing that their actions were being filmed, 6-7 policemen attacked Yeghiazaryan, although he showed them his badge and repeatedly told them he represented Radio “Liberty”.  

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STATEMENT

During a week of protests in Yerevan, and as part of the authorities’ actions to counter them, journalists and media outlets have also been targeted for attacks.

On April 19, near the RA Government 3rd Branch Building, people wearing civilian clothing physically attacked Tirayr Muradyan, a journalist from the Union of  Informed Citizens NGO. In his testimony, the attackers were police officers, who upon noticing  that they were being featured by the reporter, subjected him to violence.

On April 18, for having photographed the armored equipment on the capital’s Baghramyan street, by order of the Deputy Chief of Police Hunan Poghosyan, Narek Kirakosyan, journalist from Armtimes daily was prosecuted.

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STATEMENT

On March 30 the acting RA President signed into law two pieces of new legislation adopted by the National Assembly at its last extraordinary session, which pose serious threats to freedom of information and limit journalists’ work. These are the law “On  Government Structure and Activity” and law “On Local Self-Government in The City of Yerevan”. The first one of those laws stipulates that the sessions of the country’s top executive body should be held behind closed doors, the second one creates obstacles for the media representatives covering the sessions of Yerevan’s Elder’s council.

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STATEMENT

By decision of the RA National Assembly Speaker the draft law “On the Structure and Activities of the Government”, which has not undergone thorough public discussion and has been harshly criticized by the media and non-governmental organizations, was placed on the agenda of the extraordinary session to be convened following the end of the February 27, 2018 regular sessions.

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STATEMENT

Yesterday, on February 19, at the Yerevan Municipality, they impeded professional activity of Ruzanna Stepanyan and Susanna Poghosyan, correspondents from Radio “Liberty” and “A1+” TV Company respectively. The journalists were there upon the invitation by Zarouhi Postanjyan, Head of the “Yerkir Tsirani” faction in the City Council, who intended to introduce to them a number of problems. In particular, the fact that after the incident that happened during the session of the City Council on February 13, their faction car was not allowed to enter the parking lot of the municipality. Zarouhi Postanjyan also introduced the fact of playing cards in the municipality offices by certain people during the working hours. 

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STATEMENT

On January 30, 2018 Radio “Free Europe”/Radio “Liberty” Armenian Service and many other media reported that thе editorial staff of Medialab.am had received serious threats from a Facebook user. This was triggered by the cartoon on the RA Defence Ministry 7 million AMD spending on flowers and corruption risks in the army published on Medialab.am several days before. Moreover, the perpetrator hinted that Medialab.am could suffer the fate of Charlie Hebdo, the French magazine, which was target of terrorist attack in Januray 2015.

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In whose hands is the salvation of the drowning press?

It is a global trend – in parallel with increase of the online media, the newspapers circulation is falling, financial resources are diminishing, and many editorial offices are closed. In the digital age, when the information and news are appearing more quickly on the screens of the computers, iPad, or mobile phone than оnto the pages of newspapers, the print media is facing serious challenges. Naturally, Armenia is not an exception. But besides the objective difficulties, there are many other problems in the Armenian market of newspapers.

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Why the Armenian border was closed for the “checked TV company” from Ukraine?

The journalist of the Ukrainian ICTV company Evgeniy Lesnoy and cameraman Evgeniy Tour attempted to enter Armenia from the Georgian border crossing point, but they were turned back. The TV company’s producer Oksana Dykhnich was the first to respond to this incident. She wrote on her Facebook page that their film crew had appointments and that it was accredited at the Foreign ministry according to the protocol, but they were officially denied entry on the border crossing. According to Dykhnich, the reason  for this was that the journalist and the cameramen had worked “at the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone” (in Donbas and Lugansk – L.H.), and Russia “blacklisted” them.

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