The mob tried to break into RFE/RL’s office early on the morning of November 10, calling the Armenian Service “traitors” and “Turks” while in a tirade against the government over what they perceive as a surrender in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“You are responsible for the deaths of my friends [in Nagorno-Karabakh],” one of the attackers charged.
Others said they wanted to destroy Azatutyun’s computer servers to force journalists from going on air.
RFE/RL Armenian Service Executive Producer Artak Hambardzumian said he personally identified one of the men as Gerasim Vardanian, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun), one of nearly two dozen political parties that are demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation.
Hambardzumian said the men tried to break the door to the office and attack him and a cameraman.
RFE/RL Acting President Daisy Sindelar condemned the attack on Azatutyun in a statement issued today.
“The attack on RFE/RL’s Yerevan bureau is a reprehensible assault on the essential duty of journalists to serve as impartial witnesses during major news events,” said Sindelar. “Our Armenian Service, Azatutyun, is one of the few media outlets in Armenia that has aimed to present all sides of a deeply divisive conflict. We call on the police and public alike to support the right of Azatutyun and all independent journalists to report the news, objectively and in full, without threat of violence or scapegoating.”
The Union of Journalists of Armenia, other leading media organizations and Armenian Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan also condemned the attack against Azatutyun.
In chaotic scenes in Yerevan, protesters in the early hours of the morning also stormed government buildings and parliament.