A court in Yerevan has reversed its controversial decision to freeze the bank accounts and other assets of the independent daily “Hraparak” pending a ruling on a libel suit filed by former President Robert Kocharian.
The court made the decision late on Monday in response to a petition from the newspaper.
“Thank God, they in some bodies probably realized that it is wrong to resort to such actions,” the newspaper editor, Armine Ohanian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Tuesday. But she suggested at the same time that the decision is a “trick” designed to create a semblance of the fairness of the court proceedings.
Kocharian sued “Hraparak” last month, demanding 6 million drams ($16,000) in libel damages for a February article that depicted him as a “blood-thirsty” individual who is also notorious for his “particularly brilliant foolishness.” His lawyers have described these characterizations untrue and defamatory.
Ohanian again rejected these claims and condemned the legal action as an attack on press freedom.
Kocharian and his family are also locked in a court battle with another newspaper highly critical of the ex-president, “Zhamanak.” The case stems from a September 2010 article which said Kocharian’s wife and older son are engaged in large-scale business activities.
Ohanian and “Zhamanak” editor Arman Babajanian last week urged other media outlets to show solidarity with their embattled publications by reprinting the articles that angered Kocharian. They said the Armenian media should also lobby for the repeal of new defamation legislation enacted last year.