Armenian press freedom groups have condemned Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian for insulting an RFE/RL reporter and demanded parliamentary proceedings against him.
Tsarukian raged at the reporter late last month after being asked to explain why he keeps ignoring summonses sent to him by a law-enforcement body investigating an arson attack reported in Abovian, a town near Yerevan that has long been his political stronghold.
About a dozen media associations were quick to deplore Tsarukian’s behavior, saying that he offended a journalist for the fourth time in a month. They demanded an apology from the wealthy businessman leading the country’s largest parliamentary opposition force. In a joint statement, they also said that the National Assembly should take disciplinary action against him.
Tsarukian sarcastically laughed when he was asked about the apology demanded by the non-governmental organizations.
Ashot Melikian, who leads one of those NGOs, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech, stood by their demands on Tuesday. He said the parliament has sufficient grounds to form an ad hoc ethics commission that would investigate Tsarukian’s behavior.
“Either he must reconsider his conduct or, I think, we will ensure that his fellow parliament deputies make an appropriate evaluation,” Melikian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Sisak Gabrielian, a former journalist who is now a parliament deputy representing the ruling My Step alliance, said he wants to talk to Tsarukian and urge him publicly offer an apology.
“Perhaps he really doesn’t realize that his remarks contained some offensive elements … I think I will manage to clinch from him that apology to the journalists,” said Gabrielian.