(Prague, Czech Republic--August 19, 2008) In what appears to be a politically motivated act of violence, the acting Chief of RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau was attacked last night in downtown Yerevan. Hrach Melkumian had left his office and was on his way home at about 9:30 pm when an unknown assailant called him by name and approached him. The assailant beat him repeatedly while cursing the radio and denouncing RFE/RL's programs. Melkumian sustained broken teeth and bruises to his head and back.
"This is obviously not a random incident, but a targeted attack on our people and our programs," said RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin. "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."
Melkumian, an award-winning RFE/RL veteran journalist, served as Yerevan Bureau Chief in 2005 before transferring to Prague in 2006 to work as a broadcaster for the Armenian Service. He returned to Yerevan this past July after being named acting Bureau Chief.
RFE/RL's Armenian Service broadcasts five hours of programming a day to Armenia via satellite and FM signals provided by local affiliate stations. Armenian Service programming is also available via the Internet, at the service's website and at http://www.rferl.org; English-language news about events in Armenia can be found here on the RFE/RL website.