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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On November 23, 2017, the RA Ministry of Justice issued a response to November 20, 2017 statement by Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Yerevan Press Club and Media Initiatives Center regarding the adoption of the RA new draft Law “On Television and Radio” by the Government of Armenia. The response attempts to put into doubt the statement of journalistic organizations
At the November 16, 2017 session the RA Government approved the new draft Law “On Television and Radio” and the package of amendments to the related legislation, deciding to submit them to the RA National Assembly. This is another glaring fact, when the Government secretly develops a draft law of paramount importance and sends it to the parliament without any discussions with civil society.
On October 7, 2017 Armday.am correspondent Paylak Fahradyan was attacked at the medical center of Shatin community of Vayots Dzor region. According to Paylak Fahradyan, in conversation with Zoya Martirosyan, director of the medical center, he also mentioned the rumors going around in the community that in the medical center they take money for providing medical certificates, dispensing free medication and other services.
In the evening of September 28, 2017, Narineh Avetisyan, Editor-in-Chief of “Lori” TV company, was attacked in Vanadzor while carrying out her professional activities. She was informed about workers laying asphalt in the rain on the city bridge next to St. Holy Mother of God Church, and went there. While Narineh Avetisyan was shooting, Tigran Nazaryan, head of “Shinplus” construction company, and his employees attacked her, twisted her arms, threw her on the ground and seized her cellphone.