May 2 2011

Reporters Without Borders issued a report expressing concern about
all the libel actions being brought against Armenian newspapers
"which threaten their survival and create a climate that encourages

"The repeal of jail sentences for libel and slander in April 2010 was
hailed as a democratic advance but judicial harassment of the media
continues. There were 12 defamation actions during the first quarter
of 2011 alone. Independent newspapers are the leading targets. The
daily Jamanak is currently the subject of three different lawsuits.

Haykakan Jamanak and Hraparak are also being sued," the report says.

"Former president Robert Kocharian's family are frequent plaintiffs.

The former president himself recently sued Hraparak over a 2 February
article describing him as "bloodthirsty" and subject to "fits of
madness." While there may have been grounds for a libel action,
there were certainly no grounds for his request for a freeze on the
newspaper's assets, which was granted at the first hearing.

The order was rescinded on 11 April, but the former president's
action is still dangerous inasmuch as it suggest that the real of
goal of defamation suits is to bankrupt independent media. The OSCE,
to which Armenia belongs, has a clear position on this: "The amount
of the fine should not reach the ceiling of bankruptcy of the media
outlets or individual journalists, nor should it endanger their normal
work," the report reads.

From: A. Papazian