By Ruzanna StepanianPresident Serzh Sarkisian ordered law-enforcement bodies on Wednesday to promptly investigate an attack on the acting chief of RFE/RL’s Yerevan bureau that has drawn strong condemnation from Armenia media and press freedom groups.
The journalist, Hrach Melkumian, was beaten up by an unknown assailant in downtown Yerevan late on Monday. The assailant hit him repeatedly while cursing the radio and denouncing RFE/RL's programs. Melkumian sustained broken teeth and bruises to his head and back.
RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin was quick to condemn attack. "This is obviously not a random incident, but a targeted attack on our people and our programs," Gedmin said in a statement on Tuesday. "This is the first time our Armenian service has suffered a physical attack in response to our reporting, and we expect the authorities to investigate thoroughly and respond with the speed and seriousness that this warrants."
A spokesman for Sarkisian, Samvel Farmanian, told RFE/RL the next day that the Armenian president instructed law-enforcement bodies to conduct a criminal investigation “as rapidly as possible” and to “uncover all circumstances of the incident.”
Melkumian was questioned by the police late Tuesday.