A civic group based in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri printed on Wednesday the inaugural edition of what will apparently be the sole Armenian daily newspaper published outside Yerevan.
The launch of the “Gyumri Asparez” daily was made possible by a 22.5 million-dram ($60,000) grant provided to the Asparez Journalists’ Club by the Armenian branch of the Open Society Foundations, a charity financed by U.S. philanthropist George Soros.
Asparez, which has long been active in civil rights advocacy and often crosses swords with the local and central governments, has pledged to invest 26 million drams of its resources in the media project. It expects the daily to become self-sufficient after the first year of operations.
“I am convinced that there is social demand for a daily newspaper in Gyumri,” Levon Barseghian, the group’s founding chairman and the “Gyumri Asparez” editor, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The public needs a daily newspaper.”
As was the case in other Armenian regions, daily papers ceased to be published in Gyumri for economic reasons in the 1990s. The city of about 150,000 residents currently has two periodicals published on a weekly basis.
The Armenian print media is heavily concentrated in Yerevan. The capital currently boasts about a dozen dailies, most of them critical of the government.
Unlike many of the Yerevan publications, “Gyumri Asparez” has its own printing press. Its current circulation is 500 copies a day.
“Our newspaper will be just like the Asparez Journalists’ Club,” said Barseghian. “We will cover politics, economics and social life.”
“Pluralism is one of the tenets of our newspaper. We will also serve as the voice of the civil society and, of course, report on events taking place in the city,” he said.