2020 was a tragic year. First the epidemic, then the war took about 8.5 thousand lives. We lost huge territories from the homeland. As a result of inefficacious rule and treacherous steps, we are currently on the verge of losing our statehood.
Naturally the media felt all this on their skin. Sanctions and pressure cases on the media imposed by the authorities continued throughout the year: instructed and targeted attacks by fakes and zombies, insults by the authorities, unfounded litigation, large fines, beatings and arrests of journalists.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, the authorities made up harsh laws against free speech, which were supposedly aimed at preventing the epidemic, but were nothing but ways to silence the opponents: from tapping citizens’ phones to “trumped-up” criminal cases and police visits to the editorials. The epidemic, in turn, did not stop raging as the authorities continued to make up lies instead of fighting the infection. By the way, many of these laws have not been repealed yet.
Then the war began. During the war, the authorities forced the public to listen to Artsrun’s falsehood while having victims and handing over territories. The repressive measures against the free speech tested during the epidemic were further improved. As far as those who were pointing at the truth, they were simply severely fined. Then we suddenly learned that we had a disgraceful capitulation, and it was clear – the reason for it was also that the authorities silenced the media.
Throughout this year, “Media Advocate” has tried to raise its voice in respect of the pressure cases on the media and free speech, we partly succeeded. A detailed report in this regard is attached.
Are we satisfied with our work? We surely, aren’t. If, as a result of this detailed work, we still have about 3.5 thousand victims of the epidemic, about 5 thousand victims of the war, thousands of wounded and disabled, we do not even know the number of captives and missing, we have lost huge territories, we have given the enemy an important part of our national wealth and as a result of these we have not gained security, but an ongoing war, then these means that we have not covered the issues well and we have not shouted loud enough that we are losing a country, that a whole generation is dying.
“Media advocate” Initiative presents the cases of pressure on the media during 2020 in chronological order.
|January 9||ArmLur.am underwent a cyber-attack.|
|January 13||Some tried to hack the Facebook pages of media representatives.
An article was published on Armtimes.com, in which the editor-in-chief of one of the Armenian news agencies was accused of collaborating with the former NSS director Arthur Vanetsyan.
The editor-in-chief of Politik.am Boris Murazi stated that, he was meant in the mentioned article.
|January 15||ArmNews TV Journalists Insulted:
ArmNews TV journalist Nane Hayrapetyan made a post on her Facebook page, according to which the protest action related to the closure of the maternity hospital in Yeghvard has been broadcast live on their TV channel for several days.
According to Nane Hayrapetyan, incidents were registered while carrying out their professional activities. In particular, some people approached the journalists and insulted their professional work.
|January 16||Nikol Pashinyan||Nikol Pashinyan’s statement on TV companies:
Today there are even TV stations in Armenia belonging to corrupt people, at least 2 TV channels. Instead of their logo one may write “corruption” or “corruption group” presents the urgent issue of the News…
|January 16||YSU Acting Rector Gegham Gevorgyan||Gegham Gevorgyan instructed to cancel the delivery of “Hraparak” daily to YSU.|
|January 27||Lena Nazaryan||Lena Nazaryan labeled the media: “Several hired news outlets.”|
|January 28||Police||The founders and supporters of the “Adekvad” Congregation, the founder of the “VETO” initiative Narek Malyan were detained from different parts of Yerevan, the founder of the Antifake.am news agency Narek Samsonyan was also detained from the entrance of his house.|
|February 3||NA||Due to unorganized work at the NA checkpoint, there were queues. Then they tried to solve the problem by showing bias. Some journalists were allowed in, some were not.|
|February 4||Ruben Rubinyan||“My Step” fraction MP Ruben Rubinyan sarcastically answered to the question of the 5th Channel journalist, reminding the latter which media outlet he represents.|
|February 5||Alen Simonyan||NA Deputy Speaker Alen Simonyan said in a conversation with journalists: “Isn’t it a shame, in what kind of media outlets you work?”|
|February 7||Karen Andreasyan||Former RA Human Rights Defender Karen Andreasyan labeled the media when hosted by Public TV.|
|February 9||The RA Government||The Government of the Republic of Armenia has approved the Government’s legislative initiative on the draft law “On Making Amendments to the RA Law on Television and Radio”, which gives the Public Television the right to broadcast advertisements.|
|February 12||Slim.am website disseminated news that the video about the inconvenient incident related to NA Deputy Speaker Lena Nazaryan was made by 168.am, in particular, the website’s editor-in-chief Satik Seyranyan. The latter denied the news, noting that she has nothing to do with the distribution of the material.|
|February 13||Alen Simonyan||Alen Simonyan lost his temper, raising his voice he reprimanded the journalist in front of everyone, calling the latter’s behavior a weakness.|
|February 15||SIS||The Special Investigation Service has charged Narek Samsonyan, the founder of Antifake.am news agency.|
|February 20||SIS||The SIS has initiated a criminal case on the conviction of the Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Suren Papikyan on the basis of the publication of “Hraparak” daily.|
|February 24||PRIC SNCO||Under the pretext of personal data protection, the Prime Minister’s Office unjustifiably restricted the right of “Media Advocate” initiative to receive information.|
|March 3||Rafik Hakobyan||Dean of the Faculty of Physics of Yerevan State University Rafik Hakobyan publicly called for “cleansing the judiciary” and then “cleansing the fourth power.”|
|March 6||Masis Mayilyan||RA (Republic of Artsakh) Presidential candidate Masis Mayilyan and his relative Hovik Mayilyan obstructed the work of the journalistic team of “Zhoghovurd” daily.|
|March 16||Arayik Harutyunyan||The media reported that Tatevik Revazyan had left for Denmark to deliver her child there, as its safe there. There was no insult in the article. Tatevik Revazyan responded to the article. Minister Arayik Harutyunyan, however, called the author of the article “ignorant”.
|March 18||NA||Paid advertising on Public Television will be a blackjack for private TV companies.|
|March 23||Gagik Tsarukyan||An incident took place between PAP leader Gagik Tsarukyan and journalists.
The journalist asked Gagik Tsarukyan whether he will pay the employees for the forced leave. The PAP leader insulted the journalist, saying, Girl, how long you can make such an empty talk.”
|March 26||NA||The draft amendment to the RA Law on Television and Radio was adopted by the National Assembly in the first reading. Thus, the Public Television was given the opportunity to broadcast commercial advertisements. As a result of this decision, many private TV companies that do not have state funding will find themselves in crisis.|
|March 26||Commandant’s Office||By the decision of the Commandant, the activity of the print media is stopped.|
|March 31||Commandant’s Office||Antifake.am Editor-in-Chief Astghik Matevosyan warned that the questions sent by AntiFake.am online were not voiced during Commandant Tigran Avinyan’s press conference.|
|April 1||NA||The National Assembly adopted the draft laws on making amendments to the RA Law on the Legal Regime of the State of Emergency and on the amendments to the Law on Electronic Communications. According to this project, in emergency state, the movement, calls and SMS data of individual citizens using telecommunications operators, will be collected and may be used at any time.|
|April 2||Commandant’s Office||The Commandant’s Office ignores the issues raised by the media. Promising to answer the questions sent by the media online, it did not answer the questions sent by the Antifake.am news agency for the second time.|
|April 3||As a result of coronavirus outbreak journalists send their questions online to press conferences of government officials. According to the rules, those questions should be voiced, but the questions of the media are ignored. Lurer.com, Hraparak.am, Antifake.am, Analitik.am, Goris Today, Slaq.am news outlets and journalist Paylak Fahradyan complained the questions they sent aren’t voiced.|
|April 7||NA||168.am published an article entitled “They were awarded again in the National Assembly.” Deputies of “My Step” fraction Hovhannes Hovhannisyan and Babken Tunyan tried to refute the news on their Facebook pages.
They accused the media of spreading false news, but according to the K-56-A decision adopted by the National Assembly on April 2, 2020, Ararat Mirzoyan ordered to give a bonus to deputies.
|April 9||Ministry of Environment||A draft amendment to the RA Law on Freedom of Information has been submitted, developed by the Ministry of Environment. According to the version presented in the e-draft, there should have been information restrictions on information about specific breeding sites, but as it turned out later, what was presented online and what was discussed by the government are different projects, and the latter envisages more severe restrictions.|
|April 13||Police||The police initiated a lawsuit against “Pastinfo” news agency in connection with the material published on March 11. (“100 workers should be isolated in Martuni hospital, which means closing the hospital. Infoport”)|
|April 15||NA||During the April 15 sitting of the National Assembly, the draft law on making additions to the RA Criminal Code was fully adopted in its second reading, with 97 votes in favor, 14 against and 0 abstentions. It provides criminal liability for public calls for violence, public justification of violence or propaganda or hate speech.|
|April 16||NA||The RA National Assembly adopted in the second reading the Government’s proposal to make changes in the laws “On Television and Radio” and “On Advertising”. The government in fact institutionalized the policy of bankrupting private TV stations and restricting the freedom of speech.|
|April 17||Politik.am news agency underwent a DDOS attack.|
|April 17||Andranik Kocharyan||In a conversation with journalists, , when asked about his son’s avoiding conscription, Andranik Kocharyan responded: “Which media you represent?” The journalist answered “Yerevan Today”. Kocharyan replied, “I see. “Isn’t anyone interested in this issue from Hraparak?”|
|April 20||PM’s Spokesperson||The government blames its shortcomings on journalists․ Prime Minister’s spokesperson Mane Gevorgyan blamed the Public Television for the happening, demanded an explanation, while she did not admit her guilt.|
|April 21||Nikol Pashinyan||For two days, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made unaddressed accusations against the media. He accused the media and the journalists, of writing articles for money.|
|April 22||Alen Simonyan||Alen Simonyan accused 90% of the media of money by choosing interesting headlines. According to Alen Simonyan, 50% of media publications are false.|
|April 23||The editor-in-chief of Blognews.am news agency Konstantin Ter-Nakalyan wrote on his Facebook page that the website is under DDoS attack.|
|April 27||Soc. Network Users||Some Social Network users demand to suspend the operation of the 5th Channel.|
|April 29||Ashot Melikyan||Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression Ashot Melikyan agrees with the Prime Minister’s statement that the media had previously taken money from the authorities.|
|April 30||Court||The criminal case initiated in the case of the attack on the “Mirror” press club has been terminated.|
|May 8||Sergey Barseghyan, brother of Nikol Pashinyan’s assistant Suzanna Barseghyan||According to the Analitik.am website, since the morning of May 8, Sergey Barseghyan, brother of Nikol Pashinyan’s assistant Suzanna Barseghyan has called the editorial office 4-5 times.
He demanded to tell who published the article about Suzanna Barseghyan on Analitik.am website.
|May 16||Nikol Pashinyan||During his press conference, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, while answering the question of 168.am news agency, labeled the news agency, calling it the media of the Republican Government.|
|May 19||Arsen Torosyan||Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan describes the journalists’ questions as “absurd”. Edik Baghdasaryan, the media editor-in-chief, wrote about this on hetq.am.
“Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan considers our inquiries absurd. That’s how he assessed our article after it was published. “
|May 19||A hacker attack on Ankakh.com news agency. The agency’s editorial office expressed its concern over the situation, noting in its statement that the attack was of a purely political nature. Vazgen Manukyan’s person was targeted.|
|May 19||Styopa Safaryan||Within the framework of the “Interview with Petros Ghazaryan” program, the chairman of the Public Council also targeted the TV companies. “Yesterday, a well-known mass of TV companies, supporting Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan, fully covered this incident. However, none of them covered the fact that the Public Council held a remote session where many important issues were discussed. The Public Council has not worked like this in its entire 10 years of activity. ”|
|May 20||TRC Head Tigran Hakobyan||In the pavilion of “1in.am”, the chairman of the TRC (Television and Radio Commission) Tigran Hakobyan, referring to the new TRC law, made several remarks, which, according to him, solve some of the problems of the media sphere.
“Media Advocate” initiative sees a tendency to censor the broadcasting. In fact, Tigran Hakobyan did not present any mechanism, according to which this or that information will be considered as a fact or a manipulation. Thus, the freedom of speech of the media is restricted, which in many cases has the opportunity to provide reliable information from closed sources. This control is not only a violation of the freedom of the media, it may also serve the current government.
|May 20||Authorities/Police||The supporters of the head of “Adekvad” Congregation Arthur Danielyan were detained, who, following the rules of social distance, gathered in support of Arthur Danielyan.|
|May 25||Karen Andreasyan||Former ombudsman Karen Andreasyan made unaddressed accusations against the media on his Facebook page without any legal and judicial decisions.
“The criminal remnants of the former have started their new and disgusting, last game. They turn every small legal incident, every government slip, into a national mourning. That’s why they have enough purchasable journalists, political scientists, fake human rights activists.”
|May 26||DDos attack on News.am news agency.|
|May 26||Prime Minister’s Information and Public Relations Department||“Starting from May 26, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will regularly hold a briefing after the sittings of the Commandant’s Office. Before each briefing, the Prime Minister’s press service will contact two media outlets in order to receive the questions of their interest, which will, accordingly be raised during the live broadcast”.
In fact, the right to ask questions and receive answers from the Prime Minister is being restricted. One can not find details in announcement on how the media will be selected, questions of which news outlets will be answered by the Prime Minister.
|May 27||Echmiadzin Deputy Mayor Arsen Petrosyan, Mayor Diana Gasparyan’s spokesperson Mariam Poghosyan||The journalist of “Hraparak” daily insulted.
After the article written by journalist Koryun Simonyan, Echmiadzin Deputy Mayor Arsen Petrosyan and Mayor Diana Gasparyan’s spokesperson Mariam Poghosyan made insulting remarks on the journalist.
|May 28||Spokesperson for the RA Ministry of Heath Alina Nikoghosyan||Alina Nikoghosyan, spokesperson for the RA Ministry of Health, reprimanded Hetq, in fact confirming the facts contained in the interview published by the news agency.
She noted that she is against patients disseminating information containing medical issues. The news outlet, in turn, acted in accordance with the rules of ethics and media, having reliable information and consent of the interviewee.
|June 3||Artsakh||Broadcasting of several Armenian TV channels has been suspended in Artsakh. Among them are “5th Channel”, “Shoghakat”, “ATV” TV company.|
|June 8||Eduard Aghajanyan||The Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister Eduard Aghajanyan made insulting expressions regarding the media on his Facebook page.|
|June 11||Anna Hakobyan||Anna Hakobyan mocked the news outlet.
A Facebook post was published on Armday.am website, according to which Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wife Anna Hakobyan bought a private house in Canada.
Anna Hakobyan made a sarcastic comment on the Facebook page of Tatev Ayvazyan, editor-in-chief of Armday.am.
|June 12||Artsakh||The broadcasting of “5th Channel” has been stopped in Artsakh.|
|June 16||Police||The RA Police used violence against the media. After Gagik Tsarukyan’s interrogation, the police rudely pushed and dragged away the journalists and cameramen near the NSS building.|
|June 16||Police||Garik Abelyan, the cameraman of “Novosti-Armenia” agency, was subjected to violence during the police operations near the NSS building.
|June 17||Nazeni Baghdasaryan||MP of the NA “My Step” fraction Nazeni Baghdasaryan made insulting expressions regarding the media field.|
|June 17||Hakob Karapetyan||Hakob Karapetyan, the spokesman of the mayor of Yerevan Hayk Marutyan, went beyond the boundaries of his authority, labeling the journalists.|
|June 18||Mkhitar Hayrapetyan||“My Step” MP Mkhitar Hayrapetyan threatened the media outlet, giving half an hour to remove the material.|
|June 18||NA / Mkhitar Hayrapetan, Vahagn Tevosyan, Arman Babajanyan /||The National Assembly adopted in the first reading the draft of the new law “On Audiovisual Media Services” without holding a public discussion on it, organizing professional hearings and creating a platform for exchanging professional opinions.|
|June 20||Alen Simonyan||A bill has been put up for discussion in the National Assembly, according to which a fine of 5 million drams is envisaged for insult, and 10 million drams for slander.|
|June 25||Prosecutor / Criminal Police Department||The prosecutor instructed to “study the circumstances of Hraparak’s article “The little dictator” by Edik Andreasyan and bring the author to criminal responsibility.|
|June 25||Nikol Pashinyan||Nikol Pashinyan turned his speech dedicated to the budget execution into an opportunity to launch a new campaign against the opposition and freedom of the press.
Allegations were made about the stench spread by “political corpses” on 3-4, then 4-5, and later on 6-7 TV channels.
|June 25||“Epicur” LLC
Gor, Arthur Tadevosyan
|On her Facebook page, journalist Suzy Badoyan referred to the case of poisoning registered in the Aghavnadzor nursing home, after which the owners of the food supplier “Epicur” threatened her that she would be “tried”.|
|June 26||The website belonging to “Golos Armenii” newspaper was attacked.|
|July 1||Police||The editor-in-chief of Ankakh.com news agency Varduhi Ishkhanyan was summoned to the police to give an explanation regarding her post on Jhangiryan.|
|July 3||Police||RA Police officers visited ArmNews and 5th Channel TV companies
to initiate administrative proceedings. The reason is that the TV commentators of the TV companies did not wear masks in the pavilion.
|July 8||Deputy Mayor of Etchmiadzin Arsen Petrosyan||The Deputy Mayor of Etchmiadzin Arsen Petrosyan made insulting expressions regarding the journalist of “Hraparak” daily Koryun Simonyan.|
|July 8||Police||Narek Samsonyan, the founder of “Antifake” website, was detained.|
|July 9||Spokesman for Hayk Marutyan Hakob Karapetyan||The spokesperson of the mayor of Yerevan again labeled the journalists with his Facebook post.|
|July 9||NA Vice-Speaker Alen Simonyan||In a conversation with Aravot.am, Alen Simonyan, hearing the issue of bonuses, made insulting expressions regarding the journalistic community and the news outlets, again accusing the journalists and news outlets of receiving money.|
|July 13||Police||Members of the “VETO” movement participating in the car rally against the extension of the state of emergency, including founder Narek Malyan, editor-in-chief of Analitik.am Ani Hovhannisyan, editor-in-chief of Blognews Konstantin Ter-Nakalyan, head of Antifake.am Narek Samsonyan were detained.|
|July 13||Chairman of the Public Council Styopa Safaryan||The chairman of the Public Council Styopa Safaryan mocked the journalist of the 5th Channel Agnesa Khamoyan, then made insulting expressions regarding the work of the news outlet.|
|July 16||NA||The National Assembly adopted in the second reading the package of problematic draft laws on “Amendments to the Law on Audio-Media” and “On Licensing”.|
|July 25||Police||The police obstructed the professional work of the journalists of “Hraparak” daily.|
|August 1||Court||A lawsuit was filed with the demand for refutation; a demand for refutation was submitted to aravot.am, not to a source outlet “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily.|
|August 1||Andranik Kocharyan||Andranik Kocharyan targeted journalists on Azatutyun TV ․
“Every day, when you watch those famous channels – Angel, Agnes, Satik, you see that the same groups try to move in Robert Kocharyan’s agenda in different ways.”
|August 8||Former Chief of Police of the Republic of Armenia Vladimir Gasparyan||An incident took place between former police chief Vladimir Gasparyan, and a journalist of “Azatutyun”.
According to the publications, Vladimir Gasparyan, seeing that the journalist was shooting his house with a drone, threatened to run over.
|August 9||Andranik Kocharyan||Andranik Kocharyan mocked the media when hosted on Azatutyun TV.|
|August 18||Police||The police did not allow the journalists to shoot a video in the yard of the National Assembly.|
|August 25||YSU Board of Trustees||YSU Board of Trustees voted in favor of the proposal of the ESCS Deputy Minister Zhanna Andreasyan to ban journalists from entering the sessions of the Public Council.|
|September 1||Chief of Staff of the Government Eduard Aghajanyan||Eduard Aghajanyan made insulting expressions regarding the media.|
|September 7||NA Vice-Speaker Alen Simonyan||Alen Simonyan presented a legislative initiative according to which the amount of compensation for insult and defamation published in social networks and the media, should be exceeded from 1 million drams to 5 million drams in case of insult, and from 2 million to 10 million drams in case of defamation.|
|September 17||Alen Simonyan||Alen Simonyan disrespected the journalist: “Journalists in Armenia did not learn not to interrupt and not to express their opinion.”|
|September 6||Kristine Poghosyan, Arthur Hovhannisyan||Incident between “My Step” the deputies Kristine Poghosyan, Arthur Hovhannisyan and the journalist of the 5th channel. The deputy hit the journalist and threatened him.|
|September 8||Nikol Pashinyan||Nikol Pashinyan signed the decision on making changes in the decision “On declaring martial law in Armenia.”
Freedom of the media is restricted.
|October 12||Police||The police visited the editorial office of “168 Hours”, the editor of which is the head of the Union of Journalists Satik Seyranyan, and demanded to remove the announcement from the website.|
|October 19||TRC||The Television and Radio Commission has decided to suspend the broadcast of the program “In front of the Mirror” for 30 days.|
|October 22||Trdat Sargsyan||Trdat Sargsyan, the chief of staff of the Civil Contract party, petitioned the court to demand that Hraparak submit a reference on the newspaper’s financial flows.|
|November 10||Unknown people attacked the Yerevan office of “Azatutyun” radio station (RFE/RL’s Armenian Service).|
|November 11||Police||Many citizens have been detained since the first minutes of the protest in Freedom Square. Mihran Hakobyan, owner of “Qaryak Media”, was also among the detainees.|
|November 12||Police||Gegham Manukyan, head of political and news programs at Yerkir Media TV, was arrested after the protests in Yerevan.
|November 13||Andranik Kocharyan||During the briefing, RA NA “My Step” alliance MP Andranik Kocharyan addressed the journalist of the 5th Channel with contempt and insult.|
|November 16||Vahagn Hovakimyan||MP of the NA “My Step” fraction Vahagn Hovakimyan made inadmissible expressions regarding the journalist of “Hraparak” daily Vahe Makaryan.
|November 17||The editor-in-chief of the BlogNews news agency Konstantin Ter-Nakalyan has been attacked. Ter-Nakalyan received a stab and cut wound.
|November 17||Hayk Sargsyan||During the briefing in the National Assembly of Armenia, RA NA deputy Hayk Sargsyan, showed disrespect towards journalists.|
|November 17||Hayk Sargsyan||During the NA briefing, Hayk Sargsyan answering the question of Kentron TV journalist Vachik Grigoryan, responded: “You were from Kentron TV, right? Wait, I will answer your (informal) question. The journalist corrects that it is not your but Your (Formal). Hayk Sargsyan continues – “keep calm.”|
|November 24||Police||Search at Mihran Hakobyan’s house: legal weapons confiscated.|
|November 26||Garnik Isagulyan||Politician Garnik Isagulyan called the media outlets that do not cover his press conference “a child of immorality.”|
|December 1||Police||During the protest action demanding Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation, the police used force against the cameraman of “Yerkir Media” TV; the latter’s camera was damaged.|
|December 2||Armen Khachatryan||During the briefing in the National Assembly, the RA NA deputy from “My Step” fraction Armen Khachatryan, behaved aggressively and tried to provoke a conflict while answering the journalists’ questions.|
|December 8||Mikayel Zolyan||The aggressive behavior of NA deputy Mikayel Zolyan.
Journalist of Yerevan.today news agency Syuzi Badoyan tried to ask a question in the NA corridor to the deputy of the NA “My Step” fraction Mikayel Zolyan, who flew off the handle and insulted the journalist.
|December 9||Tert.am news agency journalist Ani Gevorgyan informed “Media Advocate” initiative that fake accounts were opened on social networks using her pictures, moreover, insulting comments were written regarding her.
|December 19||Andranik Kocharyan||The work of the journalist and host of the 5th Channel was hindered; Andranik Kocharyan refused to answer the questions.|
|December 28||Police||PARA TV news agency cameraman Vazgen Hambardzumyan was detained as a result the police operation.|