The Armenian police launched on Thursday a criminal investigation into grave threats against a journalist that were made by an unknown man in a phone call publicized by her employer.
Ani Hovannisian of the Hetq.am investigative publication said she was contacted from a Russian mobile phone number on Wednesday and recorded the conversation. The recording was subsequently posted on the Hetq website.
“You will behave correctly, won’t put your nose into wrong places or things will be terribly bad for you,” a man can be heard saying in the audio of the conversation. “I warn you. I’m not going to call you again. We know where you live, where your relatives live and … have all the information about you.”
“Or else, dear Ani, you or one of your loved ones will end up in a pit,” he added.
The man refused to identify himself or explain the reasons for his threats, which were promptly reported to the police.
A police spokesman, Ashot Aharonian, said an investigation has already been launched. Aharonian said the police have sent out written “inquiries” aimed at identifying the caller. They are also taking measures to ensure Hovannisian’s and her relatives’ security, he said.
Hovannisian, for her part, said she does not know what might have prompted the mysterious phone call. “No, I have no hypotheses,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We have asked the police to clarify who may have been behind the threat.”
The young journalist reported the threats less than a month after a videotaped incident in downtown Yerevan involving her and a police officer. The officer, Vartan Ghukasian, shoved and insulted Hovannisian after she demanded an explanation for his decision to summon a street musician to a police station. Ghukasian was fired the following day.
Edik Baghdasarian, the Hetq.am editor, suggested that Ghukasian was not behind the phone threats. “I think that some other people may be trying to take advantage of this situation,” he said. “We have been investigating offshore companies and are now preparing with Ani an article on Armenian investments in Georgia.”
“There are a number of officials and deputies whose companies do business in Georgia. We have been taking an interest in them for several months,” added the veteran investigative journalist. He declined to name those officials, saying that they will appear in the upcoming report.