By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A correspondent for a pro-opposition newspaper in Yerevan was attacked and beaten up in his office Tuesday by two men who he said are connected to Karlos Petrosian, head of the National Security Service, Armenia’s Soviet-era secret police.
Mher Ghalechian, who works for the “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” weekly, sustained major injuries on his head and needed medical treatment afterwards. His face and clothes were stained with blood as he spoke to RFE/RL shortly after the beating.
Ghalechian said the assailants were angry at a “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” report that attributed to Petrosian ownership of a plot of land in Yerevan. He said the paper printed a retraction in its Tuesday edition after one of them, who presented himself as a relative of Petrosian, complained to him on Monday. The men, according to him, were unhappy with the content of the retraction and demanded explicit apologies from the paper.
“I told them they can take us to court if they don’t like it,” Ghalechian said. “But they said, ‘No, we will kill you here’. I ordered them away, but they began beating me.”
Another “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” journalist, Armen Baghdasarian, said he rushed to Ghalechian’s room after hearing screams and found his colleague overwhelmed by the two visitors. Baghdasarian said they ran away after his interference.
Police, which the journalists claimed to have called immediately after the assault, did not arrive at the “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” premises as of late evening, and it was not clear whether an official inquiry will be launched.
Ghalechian, meanwhile, was taken to hospital for emergency treatment. “He lost quite a bit of blood,” said Nune Ghambarian, a doctor with the ambulance that hospitalized him.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun,” which supports former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, is one of the most outspoken opposition publications in Armenia. Verbal attacks and satire on President Robert Kocharian occupy a large part of its content.