By Armen Dulian
Armenia’s three leading media associations condemned on Thursday a reported attack on the editor of a provincial newspaper, saying that it was made possible by the authorities’ failure to properly investigate similar incidents earlier this year.
In a joint statement, the Yerevan Press Club, the Journalists Union of Armenia and the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression demanded an “objective investigation” into the incident and punish the guilty.
Samvel Aleksanian, the editor of the “Syuniats Yerkir” newspaper based in the southeastern town of Kapan, said he was beaten up by three young men in his office on Wednesday for publishing articles that criticized the government’s decision to close two regional schools. He described the attackers as the local leaders of the youth league of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK).
Police in Kapan have pledged to investigate Aleksanian’s claims.
“If they are guilty they must not only be expelled from the party but also punished by law,” said Galust Sahakian, the leader of the HHK faction in parliament.
The statement by the journalist unions referred to the reported assault as a fact. “Apparently, the lack of punishment in a number of recent incidents of violence against media representatives or the mild punishments imposed on their perpetrators led some people to think that they can intimidate journalists,” it said.