An Armenian civil society group said on Monday that Russia’s state media regulator wants it remove from one of its websites a story on the alleged arrest in the Czech Republic of a controversial Russian-Armenian businessman.
Like several Armenian media outlets, the Union of Informed Citizens (UIC) reported that the businessman, Ruben Tatulian, and three other men were detained in the Czech resort of Karlovy Vary in May during a gathering of crime figures from the former Soviet Union.
Tatulian strongly denied the information, however. He circulated a purported letter by the Czech police certifying that he was not taken into custody or placed under investigation.
The UIC leader, Daniel Ioannisian, said his watchdog has received a letter from Roskomnadzor, the Russian government agency that monitors and regulates the Internet, demanding the removal of the story on Tatulian's alleged arrest from the UIC’s Russian-language website, Armrus.info. He said Roskomnadzor cited a Russian law on protection of personal data.
Ioannisian made clear that the UIC will reject the demand. “The Russian Federation’s laws are not valid in Armenia,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). Roskomonadzor’s decisions therefore cannot be binding for Armenian entities, he said
“That report does not contradict Armenia’s laws or journalistic ethics … and we have decided that we will not remove it,” stressed Ioannisian.
Armrus.info and other Yerevan-based publications described Tatulian as a crime figure nicknamed “Robson” who entered the Czech Republic with an Armenian diplomatic passport.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry confirmed at the time that Tatulian, who is not known to have been involved in any diplomatic activity on behalf of Armenia, holds such a passport. But the ministry declined to clarify why and how he had received it.
According to Russian media, Tatulian is based in the Black Sea city of Sochi and has extensive business interests as well as strong government connections in southern Russia. He was among three dozen ethnic Armenian entrepreneurs who set up in January an investment fund to finance various business projects in Armenia. In a joint statement, they also voiced support for Prime Minister Karen Karapetian.