Armenian Journalists Ready to Go on Hunger Strike Ahead of Putin's Visit

Vahram Aghajanyan, Editor-in-Chief of the closed newspaper
Law - 14 March 2015, 14:52

The staff of the independent Armenian newspaper Tretya Sila Plyus, TSP
(The Third Force Plus), illicitly closed by the Russian government, is
preparing to announce a hunger strike ahead of the visit of the
Russian president Putin to Yerevan on April 24.

As it has already been informed by the media of the world, the
editorial board of the TSP accuses the lieutenant colonel of the
Russian FSS Vadim Pozdishev of stealing the funds of the international
staff of the newspaper. However, it has been four years the Russian
law enforcement agencies, violating the legislation of their country,
refuse to investigate this case, without providing any explanation of
their strange position on this fact of crime. The strange thing is
that the Russian authorities have dismissed Pozdishev from state
service for stealing the savings of journalists but are not willing to
return the money to the newspaper.

There is so much evidence to embezzlement by the officer of the
Russian FSS that it would be enough for several criminal cases. And
even a provincial neighborhood police officer would reveal this case.
However, neither the Prosecutor General's Office, nor the
Investigative Committee and the Military Prosecutor's Office, let
alone the FSS of this country, breaching the legislation of the
Russian Federation, bothered to interview the witnesses to this case,
despite multiple requests of journalists and readiness to provide all
the evidence to embezzlement of the funds of the newspaper. The
Russian Embassy to Yerevan is also quiet. Only the Russian Ministry of
Internal Affairs tried to create visibility of some investigation but
after three difficult months of deliberations it decided to transfer
the case to the FSS due to the "special importance" of this case.

The French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique, a partner of the Armenian
publication, protested against the arbitrariness of the Russian
government. In this respect, "For whatever reasons that are unknown to
us, Mr. Pozdishev seems to have assumed full control over the bank
account and has deprived the Armenian newspaper of its financial
resources." The letter informs that the editor-in-chief and the staff
of the TSP have written a letter to Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev
who have authorized the Ministry of Internal Affairs and FSS to
investigate this case. However, nothing has been done. It states that
the situation is serious, and the closure of the Armenian newspaper is
unfair and illicit. "We would be thankful, Your Excellence, if you
would pay attention to this case and found a solution to put an end to
the unjustified damage to our Armenian publication," the letter of Le
Monde Diplomatique to the Russian ambassador to France Alexander Orlov

At the same time, Le Monde Diplomatique has written a letter to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, calling to "influence the
Russian authorities to make sure that the damage inflicted on the
Tretya Sila Plyus is recovered as soon as possible." Ms Anna-Cecile
Robert has informed the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs that
despite multiple attempts of the TSP, "this obscure story continues
and threatens our Armenian publication which is not able to return its

According to some rumors, the head of FSS A. Bortnikov personally
makes titanic efforts to make sure that the letters of the journalists
do not reach the Russian president and prime minister. Although, the
assistants to the spokesman for the Russian President who introduced
themselves as Yulia and Veronika informed that Dmitry Peskov is aware
of the crime of the FSS against the Armenian newspaper: "Your letter
is on his table". The audio recording of the information provided by
the fair ladies has been saved - if anyone wants, we invite them to
come and listen to it.

Before announcing hunger strike the representatives of the staff of
the newspaper will address an open letter to Vladimir Putin, informing
all the embassies in Yerevan, human rights organizations, press of
different countries, Yerevan Press Club and Yerevan-based Stepanakert
Press Club, as well as Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Bako Sahakyan,
the Constitutional guarantors of the rights and freedoms of the people
of Armenia and Karabakh (the main part of the staff is citizens of
Armenia and NK). At the same time, the journalists are preparing to
apply to the International Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.