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Political elites and business tycoons in Armenia show growing activeness in exerting pressure on local mass media.

Yerevan. In their statement on Tuesday a number of Armenian mass media NGOs signaled growing pressure on the mass

media on the part of local political elites and business tycoons.

The statement by Yerevan Press Club, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Internews Media Support NGO,

"Asparez" Journalists' Club, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, "Journalists for the Future" NGO, Goris Press Club, "Journalists for

Human Rights" NGO, "Protection of Rights Without Borders" NGO, Martuni Women's Community Council, "Yerashkhik" Civil Society

Center and "Nor Serund" Humanitarian NGO says:

"In the beginning of this year, the Armenian journalistic organizations marked a notable decline of court cases against the

media in 2012. This was also evidenced by the Human Rights Watch international organization, which noted in its latest report that

politically motivated defamation lawsuits no longer appear to be a serious problem in Armenia.

Nevertheless, recently, the political elites and the business tycoons show activeness in exerting pressure on the media, through

filing lawsuits against media and claiming the highest amounts of pecuniary compensation. At the same time, motions on putting a ban

on the property and assets of the media are being submitted along with the lawsuits. A vivid example of this is the lawsuit of the

Armenian Second President Robert Kocharian and his son versus www.1in.am, as well as the two lawsuits of businessman Khachik

Khachatrian versus "Zhoghovurd" daily.

As regards the courts, it has become a common trend to partially uphold the motions on securing the suits, which bans the

property of the media. Formally, these decisions seem to be intact, however, they lay ground for a fallacious practice, which can benefit

the plaintiffs of exerting pressure on the media before a decision on the merits is made.

We, the undersigned, consider such a campaign by the political and business elites against the media unacceptable, and urge

them to be more tolerant and seek for off-court solutions.

We also call upon the courts to show a more balanced approach and uphold the motions on banning the property of the media

in highly exceptional cases, taking into account that this causes psychological pressure on the journalists, which may lead to self-

censorship.

We once again draw the attention of the RA National Assembly on the fact that the lack of necessary criteria for awarding

pecuniary compensation, as defined in Article 1087.1 of RA Civil Code, is a temptation for the plaintiffs willing to settle accounts with

the media. In this regard, we call to take respective steps for clarifying these legal provisions."

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Publication:ArmInfo - Business Bulletin
Geographic Code:4EXAR
Date:Feb 13, 2013
Words:436
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