An Armenian journalist demanded on Monday that the chief of the national police service, Vladimir Gasparian, apologize for publicly offending her.
Speaking to reporters at a public event in Yerevan on Sunday, Gasparian was at pains to assert that despite occasional “mistakes,” the Armenian police have made great progress in dealing with street demonstrations and media representatives covering them.
“Reform yourself, my dears,” he said, responding to skepticism voiced by some of them. “You’ve remained unchanged.”
Gasparian reacted more angrily when Siranuysh Papian, a correspondent for the 1in.am news website, dismissed his assurances. “I don’t see a woman in you,” he told the young woman.
A police statement released on Monday said that Gasparian, who has long been known for his flamboyant behavior and statements, did not mean to insult Papian. “Countering her clam that she does not see police changes, he said … that that is tantamount to not seeing a woman standing in front of him as a woman,” it claimed.
Papian dismissed the explanation. “The police chief offended my dignity,” she said.
Papian said that she plans to appeal to Armenia’s State Commission for the Ethics of High-Ranking Officials and sue Gasparian for defamation of character.
Significantly, Gasparian was rebuked by Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “If Siranuysh took offense, I, as a government representative, apologize to Siranuysh,” he said.
“In my opinion, whatever the circumstances, everyone, including journalists, police, politicians and other citizens, must strive to maintain correctness,” added the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament.
“The work of mass media must be respected, and nobody has the right to insult a journalist,” said Naira Zohrabian, a former journalist leading the Prosperous Armenia Party, the second largest parliamentary force.
Another opposition parliamentarian, Zaruhi Postanjian, said the police chief must be sacked if he refuses to issue an apology.