By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Police in Armenia launched on Wednesday a criminal inquiry into the previous day’s beating of a journalist with the pro-opposition weekly “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” which has blamed it on the authorities.
A spokesman for the Armenian Police, Armen Charents, told RFE/RL that the two men who reportedly attacked journalist Mher Ghalechian turned themselves in to law-enforcement authorities and were placed under investigation. They were not taken into custody, however.
Charents confirmed that one of the suspects is a certain Gegham Petrosian who, according to Ghalechian, had protested vigorously against a “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” report last week attributing ownership of a plot of land in Yerevan to the head of Armenia’s National Security Service, Karlos Petrosian.
The journalist said shortly after the incident on Tuesday that the two men were unhappy with the paper’s retraction of the report and began beating him in his office after he suggested that they file a lawsuit.
According to police spokesman Charents, Petrosian denies that is a relative of the national security chief as was claimed by the “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” staff. “A legal characterization of what happened will be given after the ongoing investigation,” he said.
The newspaper, which is controlled by political allies of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, issued a statement accusing the authorities of orchestrating the attack. “The current illegitimate and corrupt regime has once again demonstrated that it is intent on destroying the last remnants of freedom in our country,” it said.
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, meanwhile, denied any knowledge of the incident. “The law is applied in our country and, in my opinion, the journalist should go to court,” Markarian told RFE/RL. “I hope that the journalist community will protect his interests.”
(Photo courtesy of "Haykakan Zhamanak.")