The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan expressed concern on Sunday at death threats that have been made against the editor of an Armenian media outlet critical of the government.
“Attacks on the media, such as those advocating harm to the director of MediaLab recently, are an anathema to a free press that is vital to democracy,” the embassy wrote on its Twitter page.
The editor, Marianna Grigorian, received the threats on Facebook after her MediaLab.am publication posted on January 28 a cartoon that mocked Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian in connection with a recent large-scale purchase of flowers for the Armenian Defense Ministry.
“Don’t you think that you’ve gone over the top?” a Facebook user commented on Grigorian’s page before warning the MediaLab staff to avoid the fate of the French satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo” that was attacked by Islamist gunmen in January 2015. The terrorist attack left 12 people dead and 11 others wounded.
According to Grigorian, the user using the name “Hayk Berman Ohanyan” continued to threaten her with private messages sent in the following days. In of those messages, he hinted that her young daughter’s safety is also at risk. Grigorian stopped sending the girl to school as a result.
The editor was summoned and questioned by the Yerevan police on Friday after lodging a complaint with Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General. A police spokesman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday that law-enforcement authorities are conducting an investigation but refused to give any details. It was not clear whether they have identified the person who made the death threats.
Grigorian insisted, meanwhile, that “Ohanyan” is not a fake user and that the police should be able to track him down. She said she has managed to find the man’s phone number.